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The definition of what constitutes domestic violence is given in Sec 3 of DV Act and is a very wide and exhaustive definition, easily liable to misuse. The section 3 of DV Act is given below.
If your wife has not yet filed a DV case, read it to see what allegations she has been making verbally so far, that she might file later under section 3.
If your wife has already a DV case, read the section 3 below to check what parts of the section have already been used in allegations against you.
Bonus exercise: Read the PWDVA Rules, 2006 Form I (of DIR) and Form 4 to check what specific allegations of domestic violence have been made against you from those checklists.
For the purposes of this Act, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it-
(a) 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
(b) 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
(c) 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
(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
Explanation I.-For the purposes of this section,-
(i) “physical abuse” means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;
(ii) “sexual abuse” includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;
(iii) “verbal and emotional abuse” includes-
(a) insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule specially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and
(b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
(iv) “economic abuse” includes-
(a) deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;
(b) disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and
(c) prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.
Explanation II.-For the purpose of determining whether any act, omission, commission or conduct of the respondent constitutes “domestic violence” under this section, the overall facts and circumstances of the case shall be taken into consideration.
The main point to keep in mind is that the definition of domestic violence in section 3 is very loose and relaxed, and practically any kind of verbal or written communication can be construed to be an incident of domestic violence should the wife choose to make it so!
I will instead provide examples from real life situations which can be twisted to suit a domestic violence allegation.
Wife is harassing husband daily and husband gets fed up. He thinks that if he takes a separate house all by himself without telling wife, and then stops paying rent of their current place, the wife will get harassed. Be careful, it can backfire easily! Because wife can allege "economic abuse" under 3(iv)(c) which can easily include the fact of husband not paying rent as economic abuse on wife because it deprives her of "resources and facilities she is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household".
Wife very often comes back late from work, and the reason doesn’t seem to be because of her late work hours but her personal reasons. Husband questions her on and off about it. It can be complained by wife to be harming her mental well-being or emotional abuse under 3(a).
But usually, when women file complaints, they will add some masala (spice) to the complaint, for example "My husband suspected me of having an affair whereas I used to come back late because of work at office".
In next section, we consider a simple approach to fight domestic violence allegations.