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AALI - Association For Advocacy and Legal Initiatives

Ambreen Akhoon vs. Aditya Aurn Paudwal and Ors.

Ambreen Akhoon initiated legal proceedings against her husband and mother-in-law under Section 26 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) before the Family Court. Confusion arose because of differing restrictions on who can be held as a respondent under PWDVA versus under Family Court laws. Specifically, under Section 7 of the Family Courts Act only parties to the marriage (i.e. the husband or wife) can be respondents, but section 26 of PWDVA has a wider definition, and thus relatives of the husband can be held as a respondents under the act.

Akhoon’s mother-in-law filed an application to be removed as a respondent to the proceedings on the grounds that the Family Court guidelines for “respondent” have precedent over PWDVA guidelines. The Judge of the Family Court at Bandra, Mumbai issued an order siding with the mother-in-law. Akhoon filed this petition against the Family Court’s order; the High Court of Bombay sided with Akhoon, thus overruling the mother-in-law’s petition to be exempted from the proceedings.