In a reprieve for victims of domestic violence, the Bombay high court recently ruled that there is no time limit prescribed under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, to file pleas seeking maintenance and other protection under the legislation.
The high court last week held that the bar of limitation prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was not applicable for pleas under the DV Act.
“Hunger knows no limitation and need for sustenance can arise any time,” said justice UD Salvi, while dismissing an appeal filed by Shaikh Ishaq Budhanbhai, a Masjid Bunder resident, challenging a magistrate court order directing him to pay interim monthly maintenance of Rs7,000 to his estranged wife Shayeen and his two children.
Shayeen, a resident of Pimpalgaon in Ahmednagar district, had last year approached a local magistrate court under various provisions of the DV Act, alleging that Shaikh had driver her and their two children out of her matrimonial home, without making any provisions for their maintenance and shelter.
Acting on her plea, the magistrate court on November 21, 2011, directed Shaikh to pay Shayeen Rs3,000 as monthly maintenance and Rs2,000 each to the children. Shaikh then appealed before the Sessions court and later the high court.
He contended that his wife had approached the magistrate court more than three years after the alleged desertion and therefore the complaint had been barred by the period of limitation prescribed under the CrPC.
According to this, the period of limitation is six months for an offence punishable only with fine, one year for an offence punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, and three years for an offence punishable with imprisonment of between one and three years.
The high court, however, dismissed his appeal, holding that the bar of limitation would be applicable only to offences prescribed under section 31 of the DV Act (which says that breach of court orders under the Act amounts to criminal offence) and not to other pleas seeking maintenance, provision of shelter, and other such relief.