The Union Government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that a woman cannot invoke the Domestic Violence Act to lodge a complaint against her own sister or the brother's wife.
A division bench, headed by Justice Mohit Shah, is currently hearing a petition filed by a mother-daughter duo challenging the validity of section 2(q) of the DV Act which restricts the definition of `respondent' (against whom a complaint can be filed) to adult male members.
Petitioners Kusum Harsora (53) and her mother Pushpa Harsora (78) have objected to this restricted definition.
The bench had asked the Union Government's lawyer to explain whether the remedies under the DV Act are available to a woman living in a joint family against her sister-in-law.
The government lawyer today argued that the Act was brought in for a specific reason and it cannot be generalised. Under the Act, a mother can file a complaint against her son and the daughter-in-law but a sister cannot file a complaint against her brother's wife, or her own sister.
"If the Act were to be available to every woman, every family dispute in a joint family could eventually end up in the court. This Act was enacted to protect women from domestic violence who are legally wedded or are in a live-in relationship," said Union Government's lawyer Dhiren Shah.
The petition, on the other hand, says "even female family members can be perpetrators of domestic violence. By restricting the definition of respondent to adult male members, the entire purpose of the Act is defeated. The section must be declared as unconstitutional and violative of the rights of women."
A single judge of the High Court had in February last year quashed Kusum's case against her sisters and sister-in-law under the Act.
Kusum had filed a complaint in a metropolitan magistrate's court in October 2010 against her two sisters, brother, and his wife, accusing them of harassing her and her mother.