The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence. It was brought into force by the Indian government from 26 October 2006. The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of "domestic violence", with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not meant to penalize criminally. The act does not extend to Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own laws, and which enacted in 2010 the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2010
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 differs from the provision of the Penal Code - section 498A of the Indian Penal Code - in that it provides a broader definition of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined by Section 3 of the Act as “any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
1. harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
2. harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
3. has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or
4. otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”
The Act goes on, through the section Explanation 1, to define "physical abuse","sexual abuse", "verbal and emotional abuse" and "economic abuse".
What is domestic violence?
Any kind of abusive behavior by your husband or male partner or their relatives (includes male and female relatives). It need not be physical abuse. It could also be verbal, emotional, sexual or economic abuse.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, what can you do?
This is a special law focused on victims and giving them relief from domestic violence. You can file an application under this law. This does not stop you from seeking other civil or criminal action against the offenders.
Who are the different authorities you can approach under this law?
As a victim, you can approach either the ‘Protection Officer’ or the ‘Service Provider’ under this law. You can also approach the police or a Magistrate directly. This is a database of all Registered Protection Officers and Service Providers across India (last updated in 2009).
What can you expect from the courts when you file a complaint?
The judge or the Magistrate can order many different measures under this law in order to ensure your protection and well-being. This includes protection orders (ordering the offender to stop violence), residence orders, monetary relief, custody orders and compensation orders.