The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that a complaint invoking provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, filed by a divorced woman is not maintainable.
The high court bench of justice Anita Chaudhary ruled that the provisions under the Act could only be invoked during a domestic relationship. “Where the domestic relationship ceases, the provisions under the Act cannot be invoked,” the court held. Domestic relationship as per the Act means relationship between two persons who live or have at any point of time lived together in a shared household and are related by marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage.
The order came on a petition filed by a Delhi resident, who had challenged the complaint filed by brother of his ex-wife, a Gurdaspur resident, in 2009, a year after the decree of divorce was passed by a Delhi court.
They married in 2003 but in 2006, the woman left the petitioner’s house. In the meantime, a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act was also filed by her against the petitioner and his family members. The petitioner filed for a divorce against which he got an ex-parte order in 2008. The complaint filed by the woman in 2006 was withdrawn in March 2009, but a month later, her brother again filed the complaint.
The high court bench stated that as per provisions of the Act, brother of the aggrieved was legally competent to file complaint. But in a scenario where the decree of divorce had already been passed, it was not maintenable.
The woman had pleaded that the decree of divorce had not attained finality and the ex-parte decree did not wash away the previous incidents of domestic violence. It was contended that the expression used in the Act “at any point of time lived together” also includes a divorced wife. However, the court ruled that the domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the respondent must be “present and alive” at the time when the complaint under the Act was filed.