An “aggrieved person” as per the DV Act, can be any woman, who has lived with the respondent in a domestic relationship at any point in time and has alleged to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent. Therefore, women of all ages can be “aggrieved women”. The DV Act protects mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, live-in partners from domestic violence. “Any woman” also incorporates legally married, divorced, widowed, separated, deserted or single females, living in a domestic relationship with the respondent.
Against whom can a complaint be filed under the DV Act?
“Respondent” under the act is any person who is in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under the DV Act. The Supreme Court in 2016, in the matter of Heeral P. Harsora and Ors. v. Kusum N. Harsora and Ors. had declared that the words “adult male” in Section 2(q) of the 2005 Act would stand deleted since these words do not square with Article 14 of the Constitution of India. As a result, an aggrieved woman can complain against female respondents as well.
How do the accused and the complainant have to be related to file a complaint under the DV Act?
“Domestic Relationship” is defined under Section 2 (f) of the DV Act. For two people to be in a domestic relationship, the “aggrieved woman” and “respondent” must have to live together in a shared household at any point in time – present or past. They have to be related by consanguinity, marriage, adoption, through a relationship in nature of marriage or between family members living in a joint family.
Can a woman in an unconventional form of marriage file a complaint under the DV Act?
By including relationships between two people whether they are related by marriage, or through “a relationship in the nature of marriage,” the DV Act, extends protection to women who have had no formal marriage or in cases of void or invalid marriages in the eyes of the law, but for all practical purposes constitutes a marriage. DV Act includes second wives, common law marriages and live-in relationships in its ambit, where the shared household requirement has been established.