Once a marital relationship is ended by a decree of divorce, a complaint under Domestic Violence Act cannot sustain

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding upon the issue that whether a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act is maintainable even after a decree of divorce has been passed, the bench of Anita Chaudhry, J., held that the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act can only be invoked if the marital relationship is in existence, therefore once a marital relationship is ended by a decree of divorce, a complaint under Domestic Violence Act cannot be filed at all.

The present case was filed seeking the quashment of complaint filed under the Domestic Violence Act. It is to be noted that the marital relationship between the petitioner and his wife had ended by an exparte divorce decree. The counsel for the petitioner, Sukhbir Singh contended that, since the marriage of the petitioner and his wife has ended therefore the complaint under the Domestic Violence Act is not maintainable.

The Court perused the relevant provision of the Domestic Violence Act, namely Section 2(a) and 2(f) while answering the accompanying question that whether a divorced woman is included in the definition of an ‘aggrieved person’. It was observed by the Court that the language of the concerned provision uses ‘who is’ and ‘has been’, both of which have been used in the present tense, clearly establishing that there has to be a marital relationship in existence. Similarly, Section 2(f) stresses about the existence of a relationship by marriage or a relationship in the nature of marriage at the time. The expression used is ‘are related’ by marriage, which again is in present tense. The relevant provisions indicate the legislative intent to protect women who are living in a domestic relationship. Therefore for a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act to sustain, it is necessary that the marriage between the aggrieved person and the respondent is in existence. [Amit Agarwal v. Sanjay Aggarwal, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 4200, decided on 31.05.2016]

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