Denial Of Economic Support To Wife & Minor Son Amounts To ‘Domestic Violence’ Even If Parties Aren’t Residing In Shared Household: In Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court observed that denial of economic support to the wife and the minor son constitutes ‘domestic violence’ under Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act, 2005) and that it is immaterial whether the parties are still residing in a shared household or not.

Section 3 defines domestic violence and includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse.

A Single Judge Bench of Honourable Justice Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee was adjudicating upon a plea in the case of Md. Safique Mallick v. The State of West Bengal & Anr (C.R.R. 153 of 2020) seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against the petitioner under Section 12 of the DV Act pending before the concerned Judicial Magistrate.

Facts of the Case:

In the current case, the petitioner and his wife (opposite party no. 2) were wed on November 20, 2011, in accordance with Muslim sharia law, and it was claimed that just a few days later, the wife had started acting inappropriately toward the petitioner. The other party then voluntarily left her marital home on February 15 with her young child.

Finally, on January 19, 2016, the petitioner granted his wife a divorce through Talaknama in accordance with Muslim Personal Law, and she agreed. However, it was asserted that the opposite party no. 2 had brought a false criminal case after receiving a copy of the Talaknama. Additionally, she had filed a civil lawsuit in which she prayed for a declaration that the Talaq divorce from January 19, 2016, was invalid in legal terms and had not been performed in accordance with Muslim law. She also prayed for a permanent injunction barring the defendant from implementing the Talaknama divorce.

Court’s Findings:

The Court noted that after reading the opposing arguments, the opposite party no. 2 had requested the issuance of several orders under Sections 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 of the D.V. Act, 2005, as well as an interim order under Section 23 for financial relief for herself and their son.

According to the Court, denying financial support would be considered domestic abuse “Denial of financial support to the petitioner and their minor son, who has been raised by the opposing party no. 2, may constitute “economic abuse” under the Act’s definition of “domestic violence,” and for that reason, it is irrelevant whether the parties are still sharing a home. Even though opposite party No. 2 may have been a working woman in this scenario, it is still important to consider whether or not her income is sufficient, equitable, and consistent with the standard of living the parties are used to providing for their son when determining whether or not there has been economic abuse.”

The Court also observed that despite the alleged talaq, domestic violence in the form of economic abuse persisted on a daily basis, as evidenced by the opposite party no. 2’s request for temporary relief for the upbringing of their son.

The Court noted that the limitation will only apply if an offense is committed in accordance with the terms of the D.V. Act, 2005 and not in relation to an application made under Section 12 of the same Act, rejecting the petitioner’s argument that the current application is time-barred under Section 468 of the CrPC. In this case, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kamatchi v. Lakshmi Narayanan was relied upon.

In light of the facts and circumstances of the case, the fact that the petition for the cancellation of Talak is still pending and has not yet been decided, and the fact that under Section 3 of the DV Act, 2005, “domestic violence” includes both emotional abuse and economic abuse, the Court declined to dismiss the criminal proceedings against the petitioner.

Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.

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