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Section 21. Custody Orders
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the Magistrate may, at any stage of hearing of the application for protection order or for any other relief under this Act grant temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person or the person making an application on her behalf and specify, if necessary, the arrangements for visit of such child or children by the respondent:
Provided that if the Magistrate is of the opinion that any visit of the respondent may be harmful to the interests of the child or children, the Magistrate shall refuse to allow such visit.
Comment: This sub-section is another example why men’s rights activists demand about creating a men’s welfare ministry or a national commission for men. Not that things will change immediately upon creating such a commission or ministry. But when lawmakers create a law like DV Act the whole purpose of which is to specify what reliefs can be given to the woman, rather than what would constitute overall justice for children, father, mother; the results are clauses like above.
Under personal laws and Guardians and Wards Act related to child custody and guardianship, the basic premise is that decisions about custody and guardianship are to be taken with sole consideration being welfare of the child(ren), and not of the parents. But with clauses like above embedded into a law considered solely about ‘protecting’ women, it is foregone conclusion that fathers can hope to get a reasonable visitation order under DV Act.
So the bottom line is that it is a waste of time asking for visitation orders under DV Act. Even though section 21 says about possibility of child visitation, it is merely an addendum to the main point which is that the mother can get temporary custody of children if she asks so. The latter clause of "Magistrate may refuse to allow such visit" is also cleverly put into the draft so that the judges can be relieved of their conscience by keeping this as a possible doubt and hence not awarding visitation to father under this section.
Section 22. Compensation Orders – Or how I became a rich woman claiming domestic violence!
In addition to other reliefs as may be granted under this Act, the Magistrate may on an application being made by the aggrieved person, pass an order directing the respondent to pay compensation and damages for the injuries, including mental torture and emotional distress, caused by the acts of domestic violence committed by that respondent.
Comment: If one wants to find which law has as many multiple reliefs as possible, then DV Act will surely get that award! In Section 20, we saw sub-sections (a)-(c) which allow for monetary reliefs to woman for loss of earnings, medical expenses, and damage etc to property. Now the drafters of the law didn’t find it wise to maybe add one more subsection to the same Section 20 to include compensation for mental harassment. No! There had to be a separate section for compensation for mental torture and emotional distress. After all, the judges might not give it that much importance if it was just a sub-section, so let’s make it into a section of its own!
So Section 20 (a)-(c) were for the physical and tangible injuries, and Section 22 is to take care of those nebulous, intangible things like mental torture, emotional distress etc, which can miraculously disappear once the awarded compensation is good enough.
In real life cases, women have been found to ask anywhere from 2 lakh to 5 lakh compensation amounts or even more. Even an amount of crore has been heard. This will of course be in addition to maintenance amount asked which may be anywhere from 50,000 p.m. or more. So always expect a compensation amount demand which a multiple of monthly maintenance demanded.