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The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 was brought into force by the Indian government from October 26, 2006. The Act was passed by the Parliament in August 2005 and assented to by the President on 13 September, 2005. As of November 2007, it has been ratified by four of twenty-eight state governments in India; namely Andhra Pradeshmarker, Tamil Nadumarker, Uttar Pradeshmarker and Orissamarker. Of about 8,000 criminal cases registered all over India under this act, Rajasthanmarker had 3440 cases, Keralamarker had 1,028 cases, while Punjabmarker had 172 cases registered.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE1) For the purposes of this Act, any conduct of the respondent shallconstitute domestic violence if he,—(a) habitually assaults or makes the life of the aggrieved person miserable bycruelty of conduct even if such conduct does not amount to physical ill-treatment; or(b) forces the aggrieved person to lead an immoral life; or(c) otherwise injures or harms the aggrieved person.(2) Nothing contained in clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall amount to domestic violence ifthe pursuit of course of conduct by the respondent was reasonable for his own protection or for theprotection of his or another’s property.


Primarily meant to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives, the law also extends its protection to women who are sisters, widows or mothers. Domestic violence under the act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives would also be covered under this definition.

The salient features of the Protection from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 are as follows:

  • The Act seeks to cover those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage or a relationship in the nature of marriage, or adoption; in addition relationship with family members living together as a joint family are also included. Even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, or living with the abuser are entitled to get legal protection under the proposed Act.

  • "Domestic violence" includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic. Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives would also be covered under this definition.

  • One of the most important features of the Act is the woman’s right to secure housing. The Act provides for the woman’s right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household, whether or not she has any title or rights in the household. This right is secured by a residence order, which is passed by a court. These residence orders cannot be passed against anyone who is a woman.

  • The other relief envisaged under the Act is that of the power of the court to pass protection orders that prevent the abuser from aiding or committing an act of domestic violence or any other specified act, entering a workplace or any other place frequented by the abused, attempting to communicate with the abused, isolating any assets used by both the parties and causing violence to the abused, her relatives and others who provide her assistance from the domestic violence.

  • The draft Act provides for appointment of Protection Officers and NGOs to provide assistance to the woman w.r.t medical examination, legal aid, safe shelter, etc.

  • The Act provides for breach of protection order or interim protection order by the respondent as a cognizable and non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both. Similarly, non-compliance or discharge of duties by the Protection Officer is also sought to be made an offence under the Act with similar punishment.


Men's organizations such as Save Indian Family have criticised the law since it is not gender neutral and abused men are not covered. Moreover, it might be abused by women and their families during family disputes.Renuka Chowdhury, the Indian Minister for Women and Child Development, agreed in a Hindustan Times article that "an equal gender law would be ideal. But there is simply to much physical evidence to prove that it is mainly the woman who suffers at the hands of man". In a CNN-IBN Interview, she commented that "this act won't hit good hubbies".The former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee has also criticized the broad definition of verbal abuse in the act. According to president of India in one of speech her she said : " Another disquieting trend has been that women themselves have not been innocent of abusing women. At times women have played an unsavory, catalytic role in perpetrating violence whether against the daughter-in-law, the mother-in-law or female domestic helps. Instances exist whereby protective legal provisions for the benefit of women have been subjected to distortion and misuse to wreak petty vengeance and to settle scores. Some surveys have concluded that 6 to 10 percent of dowry complaints are false and were registered primarily to settle scores. It is unfortunate if laws meant to protect women get abused as instruments of oppression. The bottom-line therefore, is the fair invocation of legal provisions and their objective and honest implementation "


  1. The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Punjab
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