Even distant relatives living together in urban villages can be charged under the Domestic Violence Act. The Delhi High Court gave the verdict in an appeal filed against a trial court judgement.
The High Court also ordered 15 persons to be charged with harassing the daughter-in-law of the family for dowry.
In July 2008, the trial court had acquitted eight persons of all offences in a domestic violence case filed by Sunita (name changed).
The 25-year-old woman had lodged an FIR with the Women Cell in May 2004 against her husband, 11 of her in-laws and three other relatives accusing them of harassing her for dowry.
Sunita and the accused were all living as a joint family in Jaffar-Kalan village in southwest Delhi.
The trial court, in its judgement, had excused eight of the family, saying the allegation against distant relatives were vague, as they were not immediate members of the family, and did not attract prosecution.
Sunita’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the trial court order, which had refused to frame charges against the in-laws.
Aggarwal contended: “All these 15 family members are living together in one single house. They tortured Sunita at various point in time.”
The high court upheld his contention that in the present case distant relatives are effective members of family.
Justice Sanjeev Khanna said, “Though distant relatives of the husband have been roped in, this has to be viewed in the context that the family members lived in villages within National Capital Region of Delhi.”
Stating that distant relatives become a party to Domestic Violence Act, the court said that the prevalent social milieu in an urban village shows constant interaction between all family members.