It was an exceptionally hot afternoon in July 2007 when 26-year-old Radhika (name changed) was forcefully evicted from her matrimonial house with her infant son.
Neighbours intervened and managed to convince her husband and his family to take her back. But even before she could return, the family locked the house and disappeared.
"They had been torturing me for dowry for almost two years. But I wanted to save my marriage. I approached the domestic violence court thinking I will get to live with my husband and we will reach a compromise," said Radhika.
"It was only in 2009 that my petition under Hindu undivided family law allowed me to come back to my matrimonial house. But I am still waiting for the interim relief of Rs 47,000 awarded to me towards maintenance." Her son is seven now.
Adopted in October 2006, the protection of women from domestic violence act 2005 (DV Act) has fallen short of expectations. The act was adopted to provide quick relief to women.
Ideally, any petition filed under the act should be decided within 60 days.
However, records of the past five years obtained through RTI act by activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya reveal that of the 14,887 cases filed in seven district courts in Delhi since 2007, the courts have neither decided nor dismissed even a single case.
Though the courts have given interim relief in many cases, it has failed to provide any relief. Radhika is one of them.
"The DV courts were created to provide quick redressal. But there are long waits even at this forum. You cannot even blame the courts; I have seen judges churning out orders. But how much burden can you put on the courts?" asks Geeta Luthra, a senior lawyer.
There have also been instances where the respondents or the person against whom complaints have been filed have suffered as well.
"I got promoted and was transferred to Dubai. But I had to fly down to Delhi every few months to appear in the court. I eventually quit my job and came back to Delhi," said Deepak Kumar (name changed), a top executive.
"There is a deluge of applications under this act. But we do not have infrastructure and manpower to dispose them within the stipulated time," said Pinki Anand, a senior SC lawyer.