Monday, May 17, 2010

Domestic violence act not gender-specific

Law Can Be Used By Men Against Women: Govt

The UPA government says the Domestic Violence Act enacted with a view to protect women can also be used to prosecute women.
Backing the recent decision of some courts in Delhi to invoke the civil law against women, a women and child development ministry’s affidavit in the Delhi high court says that “the main purpose of the act is to protect women from domestic violence but not solely protect them from males... right of the victim against domestic violence can’t be guided by the gender of the perpetrator.’’ The Centre’s stand came in response to a petition by a widow questioning the invocation of the act against women by a few courts in the capital. Varsha Kapoor through her lawyer Arvind Jain had urged the court to strike down a section in the act that allowed courts to sanction prosecution of women.
Justifying the stand of the government, the affidavit said, “The main purpose of society and lawmaker is to provide certain protection to women so that they can live with honour... the legislature never wanted to exempt women from prosecution... if any crime is committed by any woman in that case, she is liable to be prosecuted irrespective of the gender.’’
In her petition, Kapoor, who has been booked under the Domestic Violence Act on the complaint filed by her estranged daughter-in-law, has also challenged a lower court’s order against her.
“The DV Act is a benevolent piece of legislation aimed to provide effective protection of rights of women under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind within the family,’’ the petition argued, pointing out that such a law can’t be allowed to be misused against women. Saying the provision has generated a lot of confusion due to the conflicting verdicts of several high courts, Jain argued that the high court needs to clarify the law so that the same can be applied by lower courts in the capital. “The above stated conflicting, confusing, absurd and unconstitutional provisions have created such a mess and chaos that interests of justice/ends of justice are not available to the petitioner to rescue her basic dignity and honour,’’ the petition said. The high court will now consider the petition when it comes up for hearing later this month.

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