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HC asks Centre to file reply on Domestic Violence Act section

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The Bombay High Court gave a last chance till March 5 to Union government for filing its reply on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of a section under the Domestic Violence Act which allows cases to be filed only against males.

The petition filed by a mother-daughter duo has challenged the validity of Section 2(q) of the Act restricting the definition of ‘respondent’ to adult male members.

The petition was filed in February 2013, following which the bench issued a notice to Ministry of Women and Child Welfare seeking its reply. However, the ministry is yet to respond.

“The ministry has been given three chances since February last year. But you (ministry) are still seeking time. We are giving you one last chance now. File reply by March 5. No further time will be given,” Chief Justice Mohit Shah said.

According to petitioners Kusum Harsora (53) and her mother Pushpa Harsora (78), the section under the said Act makes an unreasonable, unfair and arbitrary distinction in the definition of ‘respondent’.

“Even female family members can be perpetrators of domestic violence. By restricting the definition of respondent to a domestic violence case to adult male members, the entire purpose of the Act is defeated. The section must be declared as unconstitutional and violation of the rights of women,” according to the petition.

The petition was filed after a single judge of the high court in February last year quashed a case filed by Kusum against her sisters and sister-in-law under the Domestic Violence Act. While junking the case, the high court took the view that no case under Domestic Violence Act can be made out against female relatives.

Kusum had filed complaint in a metropolitan magistrate in October 2010 against her two sisters, Anita and Chandrika, brother Pradeep and his wife Hiral. Kusum had alleged that the four were harassing her and her mother Pushpa.

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