Wife Can’t Prosecute Extra-Marital Partner Of Husband For Domestic Violence Only Because She Lived In Their House: Orissa High Court

The Orissa high court has observed that an illicit/extra-marital partner of husband cannot be prosecuted under the Domestic Violence Act by wife merely because she lived in the house of the couple. The Court said, both the women (wife and extra-marital partner) do not share ‘domestic relationship’ as per Section 2(f) of the Act merely because they stayed under the same roof.,in the case of Rabindra Kumar Mishra & Anr. v. State of Odisha & Anr. (CRLMC No. 2334 of 2021), passed by the Single Judge Bench of Justice Sashikanta Mishra.

Facts of the Case:

The complainant (O.P. No. 2 herein) had married one Sudhir Kumar Kara in the year 1996. Her in-laws allegedly treated her cruelly because her marriage was supposedly performed against their will. The plaintiff has made various charges, including incidents of physical and mental torture. Concerning the current petitioners, it has been claimed that her spouse has an illicit relationship with petitioner no. 2, who is married to petitioner no. 1. The petitioners addressed the High Court seeking a stay of proceedings, claiming that no case of domestic violence was made out against them.

Judgment of the Case:

The Court determined that whether a person can be listed as a respondent is depending on whether he or she has a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person. Similarly, the term’shared household’ refers to a domestic connection. Section 2(f) of the Act defined “domestic relationship” as: “(f) “domestic relationship” means a relationship between two people who live or have lived together in a shared household at any point in time, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption, or are family members living together as a joint family.”

The Court also referred to the Supreme Court’s observation in Shyamlal Devda & Ors. v. Parimala that it has become a trend to charge multiple people, including strangers, without any particular charges of domestic abuse being made against them. In such circumstances, the Supreme Court ruled that, in the absence of specific charges, the domestic violence case should be dismissed. “The present case stands on a similar footing inasmuch as the petitioners are not related to the opposite party no. 2 by consanguinity, marriage or relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption, or members of the joint family,” the Court stated. As a result, the petitioners’ pending criminal procedures were dismissed. However, the wife was given the right to seek further legal remedies, if any, against the petitioners if she had a grievance against them.

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