Kusum Narottam Harsora Vs. Union of India

Two women filed complaints under several provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) against a man referred to as “PNH” and three of his female relatives. The petitioners were the mother and sister of PNH, and they alleged that he, his wife, and his two sisters were committing acts of domestic violence against them.

The three female respondents claimed that holding them as respondents in the present case was a misuse of the PWDVA, as PWDVA was intended to provide recourse to married women against their husband and husband’s relatives. One of the female respondents further claimed that she should not be held as a respondent because she did not technically live in their household and thus could not commit acts of “domestic violence.” On these grounds, the female respondents petitioned to have their names dropped from the complaint.

Rather than maintain a strict definition of “respondent,” the court chose to focus on the intention behind the PWDVA to protect women from domestic violence and thus held that all four of the respondents should remain respondents on the complaint.

[We] are inclined to hold that … the provisions of “respondent” in section 2(q) of the DV Act is not to be read in isolation but has to be read as a part of the scheme of the DV Act. … If so read, the complaint alleging acts of domestic violence is maintainable not only against an adult male person who is son or brother, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved complainant – mother or sister – but the complaint can also be filed against a relative of the son or brother including wife of the son/wife or the brothers and sisters of the male respondent.

Paragraph 26Kusum Narottam Harsora Vs. Union of IndiaWrit Petition No. 300 of 2013