The Whereabouts of Domestic Violence Laws for the Indian Women : Its Time to Stand Up and Overcome your fear!


We call India as ‘Mother India’. At the same time, we witness every third women of this nation undergoing through physical, mental and sexual violence at home. The question naturally comes – when they are not safe enough at their home, how can they be safe outside? Today in India, the scenario is worse. The cases relating to domestic violence are popping up in every 5 minutes on the news channels. Not only the Rural India, but the Urban India has also made an enormous ‘progress’ (!) in this context.

Although Indian Law has laid down laws to prevent domestic violence cases, the prime barrier in its implementation is the lack of awareness and self-confidence. Self-confidence can be gained if and only if you become self-dependent. But the lack of awareness can only be mitigated through the lights of literacy and true application of basic legal knowledge. Hence, in this blog article, we will be providing to all the common women an insight of the domestic violence laws existing in India.

The literal meaning of the word domestic violence basically means any violent behaviour of any person (relatives or husband) on the aggrieved woman within the home of the aggrieved woman which may force her to file complaint for harassment basically under domestic violence act and other provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Since ages, domestic violence has been committed against women but in today’s scenario men can also file for domestic violence which can come under the category of domestic abuse.  However, in India, apart from the two big-shot criminal laws (Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure), we have ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA)’ instituted in 2005 and aimed at protecting women from violence in domestic relationships (including live-in relationship).

What constitutes Domestic Violence?

According to Section 3 of the PWDVA, 2005, to constitute a domestic violence, it shall include: –

(a) Threats to health, safety, life etc, whether mental or physical, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or

(b) Harassment through any forms such as harms, injuries to the aggrieved person by coercing her or any other person related to any unlawful demand for dowry or other property  or valuable security; or

(c) Otherwise injuring or causing harm, through physical or mental means to the aggrieved person.

Against whom complaint for Domestic Violence can be filed? 

Talking about the present day scenario, a police complaint can be filed against any adult male family member who is in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved female and any other family members including mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law etc. against whom the aggrieved female can file complaint and seek relief under this Act including the other family members such as mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law etc. or any relative of the husband or male partner.

But the Bombay High Court in a recent judgement of 2010 in the case of Kusum Lata Sharma v. State & Anr., held that a sister cannot file complaint against her sister-in-law, or her own sister and a mother-in-law if subjected to domestic violence by daughter-in-law cannot file a complaint against her daughter-in-law, rather she can file a complaint case against her son with a mention of the name of daughter-in-law as an agent of her son.

Remedies available against Domestic Violence under Indian Penal Code

The punishments for various offences pertaining domestic violence have been prescribed and implemented under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other reliefs have been provided in PWDVA.

  • Under section 313-316 of IPC, female infanticide has been made a punishable offence which means forcefully terminating the pregnancy of a women. The punishment extends to imprisonment and fine.
  • Other sections of IPC dealing with the provisions of domestic violence offences are Sections 305-306 which penalize for abetment of suicide.
  • Sections 340 & 349 of IPC imposes punishments for wrongful confinement and wrongful restraint respectively.
  • A complaint can also be filed under section 498A of IPC on the ground of cruelty against women. Whoever being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects her to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine. The section was enacted to combat the menace of dowry deaths.
  • Talking about dowry death, Section 304B of IPC ensures justice to the dowry death victims by imposing hard penalty on the offenders. Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the offenders being such husband or relative shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Remedies available against Domestic Violence under PWDVA

  • Victims should be provided with adequate medical facilities, shelter homes and legal aid whenever is required.
  • Counselling, as directed by the magistrate, should be provided to both the parties involved, or whichever party requires it, as ordered. (Section 14)
  • Protection Officers should be appointed by the government in every district, who preferably should be women, and should be qualified. Hence, whenever you find yourself as a victim of domestic violence by your relative or husband, you need to inform protection officer as fast as possible. The duties of the Protection Officer include – 1)  filing a domestic incidence report, 2) providing shelter homes, medical facilities and legal aid for the victims, and 3) ensuring that protection orders issued against the offenders are carried out properly. (Section 9 of PWDVA)
  • Protection orders for the victim’s safety can be issued against the offender when he commits violence, aid or abets it, or attempts to communicate with her forcefully or restricts any form of assets of the victim or wrongfully confines the victim or causes violence to people of interest to the victim.
  • The magistrate may also opt to restrict the offender from the place of residence of both the victim and offender if they feel that it is a question on the safety of the victim.
  • The offender must provide relief to the victim as compensation for loss, including loss of earnings, medical expenses, any expenses incurred due to loss of property by destruction, damage or removal, and maintenance of the victim and her children. (Section 20 of PWDVA)
  • Custody of children should be granted to the victim as required, with visiting rights to the offender if it is felt necessary. (Section 21 of PWDVA)

How a victim of domestic violence should protect herself?

Inform the Protection Officer at first and file an application before the Protection Officer to issue protection orders against the offender.

Or, Call 1091 or 100 (These are the emergency helpline numbers for women) so as to report against the domestic violence. Alternatively, you can also seek help from various NGOs available. For your reference, the contact details of some of such NGOs are provided below :-

STREEBAL : 011- 26164113
SHAKTI SHALINI : 011- 24312483

Apart from that, you can also file a police report and keep the duplicate copy of the report and complaint number with your records so that it will be helpful for you to track the case status. As it was briefed earlier, the victims of domestic violence can also seek medical facility (if needed), legal aid and shelter home so as to get rid of the daily domestic violence.

You can additionally gain some support from your trustworthy friend or family member. It will help to find witness on behalf of  the victim before the Court.

Two General Concerns 

Well, the domain is not free from dispute. Rather, a flock of concerns still revolve around the laws on domestic violence in India. Amongst those, there are two main concerns which we will deal with:-

  • Misuse of Domestic Violence Laws – 

Every law has their positive as well as negative effects. Negativity generally comes in form of misuse. Hence, to prevent the misuse of reliefs provided under domestic violence laws, the responsibility to investigate each of such cases has also been entrusted with the women NGOs so as to encounter any kind of misuse. It has also been decided to appoint the civil authorities to the the cognizance of the cases and to establish more counselling centers for extracting the truth out from the harassed person and their family members experiencing such misuse. Also, if any false accusations are discovered to be made by the wife against her husband and other relatives, then penalty must be imposed on the wife, nonetheless.

  • Nature of Domestic Violence Laws : Women-centric or Neutral? 

Although since the implementation of domestic violence laws it was aimed to be women-centric, the contemporary Indian scenario speaks otherwise. Nowadays, Men also become victim of domestic abuse (although, very few!). Comparing with the women, the number of victims is still less for the men. Hence, it can be said that the domestic violence offences somewhat is a little bit gender-neutral. But when we observe the complaints filed, it is evident that the women are more likely to file report than men in India. The reason is nothing but the lack of laws guaranteed for the men. Hence, it is high time that an inclusive and uniform approach must be adopted for both the men and women in distress to safeguard them from the grips of domestic violence.

Last but not the least, “The ‘domestic’ part does not matter; Violence is Violence.” Hence, we should not be afraid enough to tolerate such violence and cover it within the periphery of ‘Domestic’. Every real offender needs to be punished, no matter what. Those who commit injustice and those who forbear it, Let them blaze like hay in the fire of your indignation.


All rights reserved to © Legally Layman and © Namrata Chakraborty (Source of Pic : Google)

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