Women can't be respondents: HC

A division bench comprising Justice K L Manjunath and Justice B S Patil has ruled that “the definition of the term ‘respondent’ as defined under Section 2(q) of the Act, does not include a female relative of the husband or the male partner of the aggrieved female or a female living in a relationship of the nature of a marriage.”

The ruling stands apart from the ruling of four other High Courts of the country including the Delhi High Court.

The matter had been referred to the division bench by a single judge to define the term ‘respondent’ following a petition filed by Leelavathi S against her father-in-law Murugesh, her mother-in-law Nalini and her sister-in-law Kavitha under the Domestic Violence Act.

The debate on the inclusion or exclusion of women as respondents under this Act has been a long standing one. Many have felt that the Act, which was meant to protect women also has become a tool for targeting women. The Indian Penal Code already allows a case to be filed against women under Section 498A for dowry harassment. A complaint filed under Domestic Violence Act also provides for the respondent to be removed from the shared household or can be prevented from entering the household.

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