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Section 18 is about protection orders. A protection order can be passed by magistrate against you and it is basically a restraining order since it prohibits the respondent from both physical proximity, violent acts, and even communication with the aggrieved person. I thought it important enough to reproduce in full below because many a time in India people don’t understand or don’t care to read the full text of the law, thinking probably that it’s a husband-wife relationship, so things will not be taken so seriously. But that easy-going attitude can land one in trouble if one is unaware.
The Magistrate may, after giving the aggrieved person and the respondent an opportunity of being heard and on being prima facie satisfied that domestic violence has taken place or is likely to take place, pass a protection order in favour of the aggrieved person and prohibit the respondent from-
(a) committing any act of domestic violence;
(b) aiding or abetting in the commission of acts of domestic violence;
(c) entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person or, if the person aggrieved is a child, its school or any other place frequented by the aggrieved person;
(d) attempting to communicate in any form, whatsoever, with the aggrieved person, including personal, oral or written or electronic or telephonic contact;
(e) alienating any assets, operating bank lockers or bank accounts used or held or enjoyed by both the parties, jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent or singly by the respondent, including her stridhan or any other property held either jointly by the parties or separately by them without the leave of the Magistrate;
(f) causing violence to the dependants, other relatives or any person who give the aggrieved person assistance from domestic violence;
(g) committing any other act as specified in the protection order.
Comment: The key thing is that protection order cannot be passed against you ex-parte (before you haven’t appeared in court), so magistrate has to hear your side of story before passing any protection order. I believe the opportunity given to respondent will be a reasonable opportunity, but the judge will not wait beyond multiple hearings if the husband chooses not to appear in court.
Also, if protection order is issued, one should not communicate with wife as given in 18(d) except while inside open court, during court appointed mediation, counselling sessions etc. when an official is present. Because otherwise it can be construed as violation of protection order if the wife chooses to make a complaint. Violation of protection order is covered in Section 31 and can lead to a jail term too, though on the ground we (MRAs) haven’t seen any such case so far.