False allegations of illicit relationship amounts to cruelty to spouse: HC
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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sought the stand of the Centre on a 70-year-old woman’s challenge to a provision under the law against domestic violence which protects even aggressor women from being removed from a shared household.

The senior citizen said that in spite of continuously being subjected to domestic violence allegedly by her daughter-in-law, a trial court refused to pass an order of eviction in light of the latter’s “right to residence” in terms of the proviso to section 19(1) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued notice on the petition last week and also sought the stand of the National Commission of Women and the daughter-in-law.

The court also appointed senior advocate Rebecca John as amicus curiae to assist it in the matter.

The petitioner, represented by lawyer Preeti Singh, contended that while the Act aims to protect women from domestic violence, the proviso to section 19(1) “acts as an obstacle” for a victim woman who is suffering at the hands of another woman and it is, therefore, unconstitutional and discriminatory.

In her plea, the petitioner has also sought a direction from the court to remove her daughter-in-law from the household.

She alleged that she and her 76-year-old husband were threatened, harassed, financially exploited and terrorised by the daughter-in-law but the Metropolitan Magistrate “dismissed the petitioner’s application for the said interim relief of directing the respondent No. 3 (daughter-in-law) to vacate the shared household observing that her right of residence needs to be protected in view of the proviso to Section 19(1) of the PWDV Act, 2005”.

“The proviso creates an unreasonable classification on the basis of the sex of the perpetrator and thereby denies relief to an equally aggrieved woman without any intelligible differentia thereby violating Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the petition said.

The plea further stated that such a provision also “fails to consider the domestic relationship and plight of an aggrieved homosexual woman” living in an abusive relationship.

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“In light of the proviso to Section 19(1) of the PWDV Act, 2005, no woman, irrespective of the extent of domestic violence and atrocities she commits upon the aggrieved person, is liable to be removed from the shared household,” the plea said.

“Any heterosexual woman can move against her partner to dispossess him from the shared household, such right is not granted to a homosexual woman in light of the proviso to Section 19(1) of the PWDV Act, 2005 The State should strive to enable the women from every segment of society and irrespective of her own sexual orientation or the sex of the perpetrator to grow and move ahead and protect themselves from the atrocities and incidents of domestic violence,” the plea added.

The matter would be heard next on April 18.

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