The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

The phenomenon of domestic violence is widely prevalent in India but remains largely deceptive in public. The protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (also called as Domestic Violence Act 2005) recognizes domestic violence as a human rights violation. It recognizes a woman’s right to live in a violence-free home. To realize this right, the Act recognizes a woman’s right to residence and her right to obtain protection orders under the law.

The origin of the Act lies in Article 15 (2) of the Constitution of India, which clearly says that “State can make special provisions for women and children” towards realizing the right to equality.

The PWDVA 2005 is civil law. While the objective of criminal laws is to punish the offender, a civil law is directed towards providing reliefs to the aggrieved party; in this case, the woman who faces violence at home.

Important Definitions:

Definition of Domestic Violence

  • The Act defines “Domestic Violence” for the first time in Indian law.
  • It is a comprehensive definition and includes not only physical violence but also other forms of violence such as emotional / verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.

Definition of “aggrieved person”

  • Aggrieved person includes any woman who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to domestic violence by them. (See Section 2(a) of the PWDVA).

Definition of “aggrieved person”

  • Respondent includes any adult male who has been or is in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved woman, and against whom the woman has sought a relief or any male or female relative of the husband or male partner of a married woman or a woman in a relationship in the nature of marriage.

Definition of “Domestic Relationship”

Domestic relationship is defined as any relationship where 2 persons have lived together in a shared household and these people are:

  • related by consanguinity (blood relations)
  • related by marriage.
  • Though a relationship in the nature of marriage (which would include live-in relationships)
  • Through adoption
  • Are family members living in a joint family.

Definition of “Domestic Relationship”

  • Child is defined as any person below the age of eighteen years, and also includes foster, adopted, or step child.

Who can file complaint ?

  • Any woman who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the offender
  • Any person may file a complaint on behalf of such women.
  • A child is also entitled to relief under the Domestic Violence Act. The mother of such a child can make an application on behalf of her minor child (whether male or female). 

To whom can information be given or complaint be made?

Information may be given arid complaint can be made to:

  • A police officer
  • Protection Officer
  • Service provider (an NGO)
  • Magistrate.

Protection Officer

Section 8, requires State Government to appoint Protection Officers in each district as it may consider necessary and also notify the area under each of them. The protection officers preferably should be women, and should be qualified. 

Section 9, describes the duties & responsibilities of protection officer, which includes filing a domestic incidence report, providing shelter homes, medical facilities and legal aid for the victims, and ensuring that protection orders issued against the respondents are carried out. The Protection Officer shall be under the control and supervision of the Magistrate, and shall perform the duties imposed on him by the Magistrate and the Government.

Service Providers

Section 10, defines service providers as any voluntary association registered under appropriate laws or other assistance registered as a service provider for the purposes of this Act. 

The section also prescribes powers of services providers which includes:

  • Recording the domestic incident report in the prescribed form & forwarding to the Magistrate and the responsible Protection Officer.  
  • Getting the aggrieved person medically examined & forwarding to the Magistrate and the responsible Protection Officer.  
  • Ensure that the aggrieved person is provided shelter in a shelter home.
  • No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against any service provider for action done under good faith.

Domestic Incident Report (DIR)

  • Upon receipt of a complaint of domestic violence, the Protection Officer or the Service Provider has to prepare a DIR in Form 1 (as provided in the Domestic Violence Act) and submit the same to the Magistrate and copies of the same to the police officer in charge of the concerned police station.
  • If the woman so desires, the Protection Officer or the Service Provider can assist the woman in fling the applications for reliefs and a copy of the DIR is to be annexed with such an application.

Reliefs Available under the Act:

  • The magistrate may  issue Protection order, providing protection to the woman.
  • Under the Domestic Violence Act 2005, victims should be provided with adequate medical facilities, counselling and shelter homes as well as legal aid when required.
  • Counselling, as directed by the magistrate, should be provided to both the parties involved, or whichever party requires it, as ordered.
  • The magistrate may choose to restrict the respondent from the place of residence of both the parties if they feel that it is for the safety of the victim. Additionally, the respondent cannot evict the victim from the place of residence.
  • The magistrate may direct the respondent to provide relief to the victim to compensate for loss, including loss of earnings, medical expenses, any expenses incurred due to loss of property by destruction, damage or removal, and maintenance of the victim and her children.
  • Custody of children may be granted to the victim as required, with visiting rights to the respondent if necessary.


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