A Delhi court has said that only an adult male can be prosecuted for resorting to violence against women under the Domestic Violence Act.
Metropolitan Magistrate Devender Kumar Jangala also said no proceedings could be initiated against any female member of a family under the Act.
"The perusal of the definition of the respondent as given in the Act makes it clear that only an adult male person who is or has been in domestic relationship with the aggrieved person can be covered with the meaning of respondent," Jangala said.
Explaining the definition of 'respondent' given in the Section 2 (g) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, the court said: "The respondent should be a male person and he should not be a minor. The respondent can only be an adult male person."
The observations of the court came when one Sunil Kumar -- who along with his two sisters and mother was made party in the complaint under the Act -- contended that the complaint was not maintainable against the female members.
Dismissing the complaint of Kumar's wife against the female members, the court said, "The aims and objects of the Act make it clear that any female/women and any minor male or minor female cannot be made respondent."
"The Act was passed to empower the women and to give them an equivalent right and also to protect them from being victim of the domestic violence and to prevent such occurrence in the society," the court said.
It is a benevolent Act for the protection and welfare of women. The legislature in its wisdom has used the word 'adult male person' to protect even women against the use of this Act, the court said.
Kumar's wife Mamta had made a complaint in the court alleging that she, along with their minor deaf-and-dumb daughter had been turned out of the matrimonial home barely two years after the marriage.
Seeking monetary relief and direction for their protection and residence, she alleged that since her marriage with Kumar, who was engaged in embroideries business, in May, 2005, she had been maltreated by her in-laws.