A history of sorts was created Saturday when a government servant in Tamil Nadu became the first person in the country to be arrested under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, three days after the law came into force. He was also booked under Indian Penal Code Section 324 for causing hurt with a weapon.
Joseph, a peon working at the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board in Tirunelveli, had beaten his wife Benedict Mary, a government schoolteacher, with an umbrella on Wednesday evening after she refused to part with her leave surrender money, police said.
Mary, who was hospitalised Thursday morning, filed a police complaint Friday evening under the new law stating she had been a victim of her alcoholic husband’s violence in the past too.
Joseph, 42, and Mary, 37, have been married for 13 years and have two daughters.
The new law allows the police to arrest an accused and also act as a protection officer to pursue the case with a magistrate. “Any government official or a Panchayati Raj body member can be authorised to act as protection officer. In this case, a policeman has acted as protection officer,” said an official with the ministry of Women and Child Welfare. Mary’s complaint has been forwarded to a magistrate for further action, police said.
The new Act recognises all forms of abuse against women in the home — physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. Violation of any clause of the new Act can result in imprisonment up to one year or a fine of Rs 20,000 or both.