Landmark Order Delhi HC directs Govt. to provide job to an Acid Attack Victim : The state owes a duty to provide free medical treatment to acid attack victims, said the Court, 29th March,2016

In an attempt to bring justice to the victims of acid attacks, the Delhi High Court went a step further to acknowledge and support the daily life struggles of their lives. In a landmark order Justice Manmohan directed the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to provide employment to Renu Sharma, a 29 year old acid attack victim. The much applauded order came against the backdrop of a plea filed by Renu Sharma, who was 19, when a tenant in her family house in Shahdara area of Delhi, threw acid on her face ten years back i.e. on February 2006. Ms Sharma has sought compensation of at least Rupees 50 Lakhs as well as to direct the authorities concerned to reimburse her medical expenses till now. She also asked for a government job either for her or any of her relatives. As per Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme of 2015, a sum of Rs 3 lakhs should be allowed to acid attack victims, when such matters are brought to the notice of Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA);Where the upper limit being Rs 7 lakhs in such cases. Justice Manmohan observed that the victim was paid only Rupees 3 lakhs as compensation ten years ago and also directed the Delhi government to bear the costs of her treatment. The court said that “In the opinion of this court, the state owes a duty to provide free medical treatment to acid attack victims. This court is further of the opinion that ceiling of expenditure of Rs 7 lakhs on medical treatment may be arbitrary and unreasonable in some cases. If more than Rs 7 lakhs is spent on treatment of an acid attack victim, the respondents (Delhi government) cannot take the stand that they would not spend more than the ceiling amount,” Justice Manmohan also directed Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital to provide free treatment to her and also stated that Renu should be offered an employment that adequately considers her educational qualification and medical status.
http://www.livelaw.in/landmark-order-delhi-hc-directs-govt-provide-job-acid-victim/

Time to act tough on marital rape- Hindustan Times ,17th March,2016

We need to criminalise sexual violence at home, and not cite social mores as an excuse
Given the Modi government’s commitment to improving the lot of women, we would expect proactive attempts to ensure gender justice. But the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs in its latest report has steered clear of declaring marital rape a crime. In doing so, it has sidestepped the views of the Justice JS Verma Committee, which in the aftermath of the Delhi bus gang rape of 2012 recommended that marital rape should not be an exception in criminal justice. The parliamentary panel, in stating that criminalising marital rape would put the entire family system under great stress, only echoes the government’s views expressed by women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi last week when she said that marital rape “as understood internationally” cannot be applied in India on account of factors such as illiteracy, poverty, social customs, values and beliefs. Her words were a virtual copy of a similar ministerial statement made a year ago.
Has nothing changed in the thinking process, we want to ask. The government’s words fly in the face of UN recommendations, and spoil India’s chances of being a progressive global leader. Should our social reforms lag our excellence in digital technologies and scientific achievements? Criminalising marital rape will only extend the 2005 law against domestic violence. Not doing this is a missed opportunity in modernising the laws. Malaysia and Turkey, steeped in patriarchal cultures, are ahead of India in this curve. It must be said the previous Congress-led UPA government also saw a parliamentary panel saying virtually the same things lawmakers have said now.
India’s Constitution is a modern one that promises equality and social justice, and laws must lead social reform rather than be victims of the status quo that parliamentary panels seem to helplessly endorse. There may be legitimate reasons to apply safeguards against the abuse of a law that criminalises marital rape. India’s laws against dowry and domestic violence have been abused in divorce disputes, with widespread complaints of police cases and lawsuits being used to harass men. Courts have already spoken out on the issue and their logic may be extended to safeguard men from abuse of rape laws. However, that is not a case against criminalising marital rape. A UN survey said in 2014 that one in every five Indian women has suffered rape in an intimate partnership. Why should India’s lawmakers bury their heads in the sand like ostriches while paying lip service to justice for women? It is time the government acted.

Priya Parameswaran Pillai Vs. Union of India and Ors.

In January 2015, an immigration officer stopped Greenpeace India activist Pillai from boarding her flight to London, where she intended speak to British Parliamentarians on how one of the U.K.’s energy company’s plans to open coal mines in Madhya Pradesh threatened to displace the area’s tribal communities. The immigration officers prevented Pillai from boarding the plane on the basis that her talk was “anti-nationalist” and “would have negatively projected the image of the Government of India” for not adequately protecting the human rights of its tribal communities. Pillai took the issue to court as a violation of her Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and to move about freely. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor.

The core aspect of democracy is the freedom of an individual to be able to freely operate, within the framework of the laws enacted by the Parliament. The individual should be able to order his or her life any way he or she pleases, as long as it is not violative of the law or constitutes an infraction of any order or direction of a duly constituted court, tribunal or any statutory authority for that matter. Amongst the varied freedoms conferred on an individual (i.e., the citizen), is the right of free speech and expression, which necessarily includes the right to criticise and dissent. Criticism, by an individual, may not be palatable; even so, it cannot be muzzled. Many civil right activists believe that they have the right, as citizens, to bring to the notice of the State the incongruity in the developmental policies of the State. The State may not accept the views of the civil right activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent.

Paragraph 13.5Priya Parameswaran Pillai Vs. Union of India and Ors.2015VIIAD(Delhi)10

Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar

Arnesh Kumar was arrested under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 after his wife alleged that he demanded dowry from her. Denying the allegations, Kumamr requested anticipatory bail, but his request was denied. This led him to file a Special Leave Petition, which was granted by the court.

In order to ensure that an arrest or detention is necessary and legal, the police and the Magistrate are required to follow certain protocol. The protocol is often ignored, as was the case here. In this judgment, the court outlined certain measures and internal reforms to curb these kinds of unnecessary and illegal arrests and detentions.

Arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and casts scars forever … The need for caution in exercising the drastic power of arrest has been emphasized time and again by Courts but has not yielded desired result. … Our endeavour in this judgment is to ensure that police officers do not arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically.

Paragraphs 7 and 13Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar(2014)8SCC273

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

Navneet Arora vs. Surender Kaur

Navneet Arora was living with her husband and daughter in a household shared with several of her in-laws. The house was legally owned by Navneet Arora’s mother-in-law, Surender Kaur, when Navneet’s husband died.

Surender Kaur filed a suit for mandatory injunction against Navneet Arora. In an order dated March 21, 2014, the judge ruled in Surender Kaur’s favor, citing several Supreme Court decisions wherein it was held that an estranged daughter-in-law has no right to stay in the property owned by either her mother-in-law or her father-in-law.

Navneet Arora filed an appeal, claiming that under Section 2 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, her living situation with her in-laws qualifies as a “shared household,” and thus she has the right to reside there.

The Supreme Court pointed to the fact that all of the residents of the residence in question shared a common kitchen and ate meals together from a joint income, and that they all lived on the same floor in commensality. It further pointed out that Navneet Arora continued to reside their with her daughter after her husband’s death. They thus ruled in Navneet Arora’s favor, stating that this does legally qualify as a “shared household,” and thus she has a right to reside there.

On the first blush it may appear quite jarring to certain quarters of the society that by enacting the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 the legislature has invested a ‘right of residence’ in favour of wives qua premises in which they or their husband admittedly have no right, title or interest and such premises are in fact owned by the relatives of the husband. …[T]he Act does not confer any title or proprietary rights in favour of the aggrieved person as misunderstood by most, but merely secures a ‘right of residence’ in the ‘shared household’. Section 17(2) clarifies that the aggrieved person may be evicted from the ‘shared household’ but only in accordance with the procedure established by law. The legislature has taken care to calibrate and balance the interests of the family members of the respondent.

Paragraphs 58 and 59Navneet Arora vs. Surender Kaur2015(3)JCC2009

S.R. Batra and Anr. vs. Smt. Taruna Batra

Ms. Taruna Batra married Amit Batra on April 14, 2000, who is the son of the two appellants Mr. and Mrs. S.R. Batra. After the marriage, Taruna and her husband started residing together as husband and wife on the second floor of B-135, Ashok Vihar, Phase-I, Delhi, while S.R. Batra and his wife resided separately on the ground floor of the same property. The entire property was exclusively owned by Taruna Batra’s mother-in-law, Mrs. S.R. Batra.

Amit Batra filed for divorce, after which Taruna Batra lodged an FIR against her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. They were all arrested and granted bail after three days. As a result of the rising tensions, Taruna Batra shifted to her parent’s residence. Amit Batra, too, moved out of the residence and into his own flat in Ghaziabad. Later on, Taruna Batra tried to return to her old home at B-135, Ashok Vihar, Phase-I, Delhi, but found it locked. She filed a suit seeking mandatory injunction to enable her to enter the house but, before any order could be passed, she forcibly broke into the residence.

In back-and-forth appeals, a central question arose: Should the second floor of this property be considered Taruna Batra’s matrimonial home? The issue reached the Supreme Court, and became a landmark judgment clarifying the legal definition of “shared household.” The Supreme Court determined that in order for a home to be considered a “shared household”, the husband must either own the property, he must pay rent on the property, or the house must belong to a joint family of which the husband is a member. The court therefore ruled that the property in question does not count as a “shared household.”

Full Citation: S.R. Batra and Anr. vs. Smt. Taruna Batra, (2007)3SCC169

Sou. Sandhya Manoj Wankhade vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and Ors.

Sandhya Manoj Wankhade moved in with Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and his mother and sister following their marriage in 2005. About a year later, she began experiencing abuses from the three of them, for which she filed complaints under several articles of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA).

There were back-and-forth applications and petitions for appeals from both sides, and a central question arose: is it lawful for a woman to lodge complaints against female relatives of her husband under the PWDVA? The language of the law was unclear.

The high court ruled in favor of the husband’s female relatives, thus blocking them from certain charges outlined in the PWDVA. The issue went to the Supreme Court, who ruled in Sandhya Manoj Wankhade’s favor saying that it is in fact permissible to hold female relatives as respondents under the act.

Full Citation: Sou. Sandhya Manoj Wankhade vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and Ors., (2011)3SCC650

V. D. Bhanot vs. Savita Bhanot

V.D. Bhanot and Savita Bhanot were married in 1980 and lived together until 2005. In 2006, Savita Bhanot filed a petition for various reliefs under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA). She sought monetary relief from her husband, and the protection of her right to reside in her matrimonial home, both of which she was entitled to under PWDVA.

The main question that arose in this petition was whether or not Savita Bhanot was entitled to maintain a petition under the provisions of PWDVA if the act of domestic violence in question occurred before PWDVA was enacted. In consideration of the intention behind PWDVA, the Delhi High Court held that she was in fact eligible for the benefits it provides, despite the fact that the relevant act of domestic violence occurred before its enactment.

This case is also notable for the fact that the court interpreted “domestic violence” liberally in favor of Savita Bhanot. Specifically, it held that forcing Savita Bhanot to live alone in rented accommodation that she did not feel safe in constituted an act of domestic violence, and thus was considered illegal in view of PWDVA.

Juveria Abdul Majid Patni Vs. Atif Iqbal Mansoori

Juveria Abdul Majid Patni and Atif Iqbal Mansoori got married according to Muslim rites and rituals in May 2015. The appellant experienced various abuses from the respondent, for which she lodged an FIR against him in 2007. The appellant claimed that she obtained an ex parte Khula from Mufti under the Muslim Personal Law in May 2008, but whether or not the couple legally completed the divorce process was contested. In September 2009, the appellant filed a petition under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) for abuses that had occurred prior to their divorce.

Two main questions arose in this case: first, did the couple complete the divorce process in 2008? And second, can a divorced woman seek reliefs against her ex-husband under Sections 18 to 23 of the PWDVA?

The court determined that the couple’s divorce effectively took place in May 2008. It further determined that once an act of domestic violence has been committed, a subsequent decree of divorce will not absolve the liability of the respondent from the offence committed or deny the benefit to which the aggrieved person is entitled under the PWDVA.

An act of domestic violence once committed, subsequent decree of divorce will not absolve the liability of the Respondent from the offence committed or to deny the benefit to which the aggrieved person is entitled under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 including monetary relief Under Section 20, Child Custody Under Section 21, Compensation Under Section 22 and interim or ex parte order Under Section 23 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Paragraph 31Juveria Abdul Majid Patni Vs.
 Atif Iqbal Mansoori(2014)10SCC736