Case Commentary on the case of Kuldeep Singh v Rekha: Domestic Violence Act
Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Abstract: This paper attempts to analyze the effect of the domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the person(s) against whom a complaint is filed in regards to redressal available to the former under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005. In this particular judgement, Kuldeep Singh v Rekha, it was held that there must exist a domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the party against whom the complaint is filed to invoke Domestic Violence Act of 2005. The issue of contention established by the court was whether the relatives of the husband fall under the ambit of being in this relationship. But this paper by interpreting the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 argues that the issue of contention must essentially be whether the aggrieved person was a victim of domestic violence from the said relatives. It discusses the relevance, limitations and interpretations of provisions for an aggrieved person to seek redressal under Section 12 of this Act keeping in mind the purpose of the Domestic Violence Act and the discourse of Human Rights. Lastly, the paper draws the reader's attention to the effect of such precedents on the society.
In the case of Kuldeep Singh vs Rekha, the provisions of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005 were interpreted by the Hon’ble Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court in a manner which distinctly establishes the need for a domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the other parties in order to invoke the provisions of the act. This interpretation also establishes that the parents/relatives of the party against whom the complaint is filed do not fall under the ambit of this relationship when the parties live in a separate matrimonial home. This paper aims to analyse the significance of a domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the person(s) against whom a complaint is filed with regards to redressal mechanisms available to the former under the provisions of the act.
Under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, a fundamental requirement is that the applicant must be an aggrieved person as defined under Section 2(a) of the Act. This establishes that a domestic relationship must have existed between the aggrieved person and the other party to invoke one’s rights under this act. The Court, considering the fact that the parties have left the shared household to establish separate homes, opined that the domestic relationship with regards to the husband’s parents/relatives comes to an end and any petition against them under Section 12 stands quashed.
The court relied on the case of Vijay Verma vs. The State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr., was analysed in order to pass this order where the phrase “at any point in time” was analysed and it was held that the petition will only be maintainable as long as the parties reside in the same household. For instance, the bench exemplifies this by stating that by taking due consideration of the purpose of the Act, that aims to provide remedy to aggrieved persons against domestic violence, then such violence can take place only when the parties are living in a shared household. The acts of abuse, be it emotional, financial, verbal or physical, if committed when living in a shared household shall constitute domestic violence and if these offences are committed when the parties are living separately, they may be punished under different provisions of IPC or other Penal laws but not under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.
This line of reasoning can be criticized on the grounds that the only connection the relatives of the applicant had when they approached the aggrieved person and abused her while demanding huge amounts of cash to purchase a vehicle, was the relationship she shared with the husband and the marriage that was solemnized between them. One may agree with the bench’s opinion that these offences may be committed from a distance by any person but given that the parties did so due to the nature of the marital status between the applicant and the respondent invokes the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act. Given that the purpose of Domestic Violence Act is to protect any aggrieved person from such acts of abuse, the fact that the parties no longer live under the same roof cannot be a legitimate reason to quash the petition seeking redressal for such acts of abuse under Section 12 of this Act.
The issue that is pertinent here is whether living under the same roof is the only requirement to constitute a domestic relationship. Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act states that “(f) ‘domestic relationship’ means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.”This section by way of its wording clearly indicates that it is the relationship between parties that is of essence to a domestic relationship. There’s also the requirement that the parties ought to have, at any point of time, lived together, which although is the situation in the current scenario, may not be the case during other instances. This paves way for such acts of abuse not being addressed by this act. The relationship shared between the parties ought to be given utmost importance as opposed to living under the same roof when such offences are said to have been committed solely because of the marital relationship between two of the parties. A shared household is not of utmost relevance given that the aggrieved person would not have been subjected to the said abuse had it not been for the marriage she was part of and the relationship she shared with the parties that subjected her to such abuse.
This clearly draws the attention of the provisions of Domestic Violence Act and the reasoning provided by the Hon’ble Bench that the offense could have been committed through a phone or from miles away pointing out the lack of a shared household needs to duly reconsidered given that the relationship between the parties is what led to the aggrieved person being subjected to the said abuse. This expresses the limitations and shortcomings of this provision and given that this judgment sets a precedent that even if there were instances of abuse by a relative of the husband, if the parties do not reside in the same household, the aggrieved person cannot approach the court of law under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005.
These dangerous precedents amount to a gross violation of human rights when interpretations of statutes and statutes themselves fall short of ensuring that the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 stays true to its purpose of providing necessary legal remedies to an aggrieved person. Moreover, victims of Domestic Violence approaching a court of law in India is rare given the stigma attached to the same and these precedents act as barriers that prevent women from coming forward with issues of domestic violence solely because the people that subjected them to it lived in separate households. In patriarchal societies with meagre sensitization of women’s rights with respect to domestic violence that takes place in every other home, such precedents hinder the growth of society as a whole.
1. Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
2. Kuldeep Singh v Rekha, M.Cr.C. No.5644 (2016).
3. Vijay Verma v State of NCT of Delhi & Anr, 118 DRJ 520, (2010), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/176922704/.
Anjana Rajsri Anand is a second year student of law at O.P Jindal Global University. Her interests predominantly lie in the realm of Criminal Law and Jurisprudence. She was also part of a team placed second in a Criminal Law National Moot Court competition.