Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Anand Byrareddy, J. allowed a criminal petition filed by a Muslim male holding that he was entitled to invoke the provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (DV Act).

The petition was filed under Section 482 CrPC by the petitioner, a male. Being aggrieved by certain acts of his wife and her family, the petitioner invoked the provisions of DV Act. Learned City Civil and Sessions Judge was not impressed by the action brought on behalf of the petitioner as in his opinion, the Act was heavily loaded in favor of women and it does not contemplate any male member being aggrieved by domestic violence. Feeling aggrieved, the petitioner approached the High Court.

In order to settle the issue, the High Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Hiralal P. Harsora v.  Kusum Narottamdas Harsora, (2016) 10 SCC 165, wherein the Hon’ble Court had struck down a part of Section 2(a) of DV Act holding it to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, and the phrase ‘adult male’ as appearing in Section 2(q) stood deleted. The High Court observed that if the said sub-section is read after deletion of the expression ‘adult male’, it would appear that any aggrieved person, in terms of DV Act, whether male or female, is entitled to invoke provisions of the Act. Having stated thus, the High Court held that petitioner’s complaint could not have been trashed merely on the ground that the Act does not contemplate provisions for men. The petition was accordingly allowed. [Mohd. Zakir v. Shabana, Crl. Petition No. 2351 of 2017, dated 18.04.2018]

Update: By an order dated 28.04.2018, Byrareddy J. withdrew the above mentioned order and restored the petition to the file.

The order reads as – “Notwithstanding Section 362 of Cr.P.C., the order rendered by this Court earlier on 18.04.2018 is found to be patently erroneous and therefore the order is withdrawn. The petition is restored to file and the registry is directed not to web host the order passed earlier and to take note of the fact that the order is withdrawn.” [Mohd. Zakir v. Shabana, Crl. Petition No. 2351 of 2017, dated 28.04.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with an important question as to the constitutional validity of Section 2(q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 that provides that the word “respondent” will only mean an adult male, the Bench of Kurian Joseph and R.F. Nariman, JJ said that the words “adult male” in Section 2(q) of the Act should stand deleted since these words do not square with Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Taking note of various sections of the Act, the Court held that it is clear that such violence is gender neutral. It is also clear that physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and economic abuse can all be by women against other women. Even sexual abuse may, in a given fact circumstance, be by one woman on another. Also, if “respondent” is to be read as only an adult male person, it is clear that women who evict or exclude the aggrieved person are not within its coverage, and if that is so, the object of the Act can very easily be defeated by an adult male person not standing in the forefront, but putting forward female persons who can therefore evict or exclude the aggrieved person from the shared household. This again is an important indicator that the object of the Act will not be sub-served by reading “adult male person” as “respondent”.

Regarding the word “adult”, the Court said that it is not difficult to conceive of a non-adult 16 or 17 year old member of a household who can aid or abet the commission of acts of domestic violence, or who can evict or help in evicting or excluding from a shared household an aggrieved person. It was held that even the expression “adult” in the main part is Section 2(q) is restrictive of the object sought to be achieved by the kinds of orders that can be passed under the Act and must also be, therefore, struck down, as this word contains the same discriminatory vice that is found with its companion expression “male”.

The Court said that the microscopic difference between male and female, adult and non-adult, regard being had to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act, is neither real or substantial nor does it have any rational relation to the object of the legislation. Consequently, the proviso to Section 2(q), being rendered otiose, also stands deleted which was provided only to carve out an exception to a situation of “respondent” not being an adult male. [Hiral P. Harsora v. Kusum Narottamdas Harsora, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1118, decided on 06.10.2016]