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13 May 2018

SC clears air on domestic violence law

R. Balaji, TT, May 13, 2018, New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that a woman can invoke the domestic violence act retrospectively even if she had been divorced or thrown out of the house by her husband before the act came into force on October 26, 2006.

It rejected an appeal from Talib Ali, whose wife Shabana aka Chand Bai had lodged a complaint under the act in February 2007 after being allegedly thrown out of her matrimonial home in May 2005.

A magistrate had dismissed the case saying the domestic violence act did not apply to it since Shabana had not lived in a "domestic" relationship with Ali after the act came into force.

The district and sessions judge, Jodhpur, threw out her appeal.

But Rajasthan High Court set aside the two lower courts' orders in 2013, ruling the expression "domestic relationship" in the act allowed retrospective application.

Parliament had made it "abundantly clear" that it was not necessary for the victim to be living with her husband or his family members on or after the date the act came into force to be able to invoke its provisions, the court noted.

Ali then appealed before the apex court, where the bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R. Banumathi and Navin Sinha ruled against him recently.

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