In what can prove to be a change in the existing saas-bahu relationship, the Supreme Court has widened the scope of law by allowing a woman to seek legal action against her daughter-in-law and even her minor grandchildren fro domestic violence.
The apex court has ordered striking down of the two words from section 2(q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which deals with respondents who can be sued and prosecuted under the Act for harassing a married woman in her matrimonial home.
A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman paved way for prosecution of any person irrespective of gender or age under the DV Act, ordered deletion of the words “adult male” from the statute book saying it violated right to equality under the Constitution.
Referring to earlier verdicts, the apex court said “the microscopic difference between male and female, adult and non adult, regard being had to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act, is neither real or substantial, nor does it have any rational relation to the object of the legislation.”
Earlier, only daughter-in-law could sue her husband and his women relatives. But a domestic violence complaint couldn’t be filed against the daughter-in-law as the accused under the law could only be adult males.
Dealing with the term ‘adult’, the bench said “it is not difficult to conceive of a non-adult 16 or 17 year-old member of a household who can aid or abet the commission of acts of domestic violence, or who can evict or help in evicting or excluding from a shared household an aggrieved person.
The bench said that the term “adult male” contained in the Act was “discriminatory”