ANISH PRAMOD PATEL Vs KIRAN JYOT MAINI as on Dated 01 December 2023, DHC
Delhi High court while deciding a quashing petition of summoning order passed under Section 31(1) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 for non-compliance of monetary relief or interim maintenance. The respondent wife in the present case had filed a complaint under Section 31 of PWDV Act before the Court concerned solely on the ground that the petitioner Husband had failed to pay the amount of interim maintenance so granted by the learned Trial and Sessions Court under PWDV Act, and thus, he was liable to face consequences under Section 31 of the Act and further under Section 498A of IPC for commission of cruelties against the complainant.
Section 31 of PWDV Act, which reads as under:
1) A breach of protection order, or of an interim protection order, by the respondent shall be an offence under this Act and shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees, or with both.
(2) The offence under sub-section (1) shall as far as practicable be tried by the Magistrate who had passed the order, the breach of which has been alleged to have been caused by the accused.
(3) While framing charges under sub-section (1), the Magistrates may also frame charges under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any other provision of that Code or the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961), as the case may be, if the facts disclose the commission of an offence under those provisions.
Court find that , While deciding such issues, particularly in relation to interpretation of provisions of PWDV Act, it is important to carefully analyse and examine the aim and objects which were sought to be achieved through enactment of PWDV Act. It was realized by the legislature that while criminal recourse was available for women facing domestic violence in matrimonial settings, as provided under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the same only led to the punishment of the accused without immediate remedies for the woman’s specific needs and livelihood challenges. In response to this gap in legal provisions, the PWDV Act was enacted to offer certain civil remedies to the victims of domestic violence. These remedies encompass an array of protective measures, residence orders, and monetary reliefs, designed to address the multifaceted nature of abuse. The aim of the Act was, therefore, to provide for protection, rehabilitation and upliftment of victims of domestic violence, in contrast to sending the aggressor to prisons. In other words, the purpose behind enforcement of monetary orders would be to provide monetary sustenance to the victim, and not the incarceration of the aggressor.
Thus, it can safely be concluded that the focus of PWDV Act is on providing immediate and effective relief to victims of domestic violence by way of maintenance or interim maintenance orders, and the idea is not to immediately initiate criminal proceedings against the aggressor i.e. „respondent‟ as defined in the Act for non-payment of maintenance and to send such person to prison forthwith. monetary order such as order for payment of maintenance passed under Section 20 of PWDV Act
Therefore, for the reasons recorded in the preceding discussion, this Court is of the view that a person cannot be summoned under Section 31 of PWDV Act for non-compliance of monetary order such as order for payment of maintenance passed under Section 20 of PWDV Act.