Saturday, February 4, 2017


Indian society is multi religious society. Each has their own sociological and cultural values. Marriage is common in every religion. In Indian culture, the girls enter into marital relationship. She is expected to shift her loyalties from parents and siblings to in her husband and in-laws. She has no independent social or economical status. Her social status is dependent on her husband’s status in the family. Husband uses violence against wife to reinforce his dominant position. The use of continues methods by husbands against wives have societal approval.

In a recent case of Mrs. Savita Bhanot v. Lt. Col. V. D. Bhanot , apex court is already felt that it is historical reality that the women in our society have been subjected to discrimination, misbehavior and ill-treatment, not only outside but also inside their houses.” Even working women, whether she is a construction worker who works side by side with her husband or a well–educated and a suitably employed professional is not always accorded the dignity and respect, which ought to be given to her on home front.

In the Vedic period the social status of women was subordinate to her husband. In Puranas, picture of ideal wife is painted like this:-“Who speaks sweetly to her husband and is a clever manager of household affairs, is a true wife. She who is one in spirit with her Lord, and devotes her whole self to his happiness, is a true wife.”

Manu was the first man to lay-down the status of women in society. He averred that a mother is more revere than a thousand fathers. But the place of the women in a society is of very lower status. According to Manu the place of women should be in level with the lowest of all groups in Aryan society. Women are required to believe from that they are inferior to men. Thus a woman has to face gender discrimination from birth to death. The permissive gender discrimination is deeply rooted in the notion of patriarchy. Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men. Violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men. The code of Manu directed that wife should be considered of no more importance than a chattel of her husband. Whether a drunkard, leper, sadist or wife beater, husband is to be worshipped as a God.

Wife-battery almost found in every society. In Europe, it is said that “a man had the right to beat his wife with a stick not thicker than his thumb.” In our culture we found a quotation of Tulsidas such as “Drums, donkeys and women need to be beaten.” It shows that problem of wife-battery is traditionally accepted in society.

Meaning of wife-battery is not given in Indian law. ‘Battery’ means higher degree of assault. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, ‘Battery’ is: "an intentional and offensive touching of another without lawful jurisdiction”. In other words, the meaning of battery is use of force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact. It also termed as criminal battery. “Criminal battery” sometimes defined briefly as the unlawful application of force to the person of another. There are three basic elements of it:-
1. The defendant’s conduct (act or omission);
2. His mental state; intention to kill or injure or doing of an unlawful act, or criminal negligence; and
3. The harmful result to the victim, a bodily injury or an offensive touching.

The word battery is used in law of torts, where ‘Battery consists in touching another’s person hostilely or against his will. It is the actual application of force to the person of another, done without justification, in a rude, angry, insolent or revengeful manner. In other words, the intentional application of force to the person of another without lawful justification constitutes the wrong of battery e.g. the least touching of a man in anger is a battery. In case of married women, it may be possible to argue that unwanted sexual contact forced upon her by her husband is battery.

Battery may include sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, abusing children, threats, abusing male privilege, intimidation, isolation, and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation and power. Battery happens when one person believe they are entitled to control another, and wife are most common victim of the violence. The problem of wife-battery is perhaps as old as the institution of marriage.

The United Nations defined the term "violence against women" in a 1993 Declaration as “Any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women including the threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in public or private life." The domestic violence is prevalent throughout the world with women regardless of age, education level, socio-economic class and family living arrangement.

International community has created effective legal standards that address domestic violence. The rights of battered women may be asserted under international and regional human rights conventions that are legally binding upon ratifying states. The International Bill of Human Rights (IBHR) comprised of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) , the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), set forth general human rights standards that victims of domestic violence may invoke against their state of citizenship.

In India the domestic violence is prevalent because husband has been vested with superior status in society. Indian Penal Code, 1860 has declared a number of acts of violence against human body to be an offence, for example sections 313(causing miscarriage without woman’s consent), 314(death caused by act done with intent to cause miscarriage), 322(voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 340(wrongful confinement), 354(assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 375(rape) etc. These violent acts may be towards a person in public or domestically within the four walls of a house i.e. wife and children. Thus the law prohibits a husband/man in any social community to commit an offence with his women.

Dowry Death: Section 304B
The legislature has tried to protect such women by enacting many provisions of law in this regard as Dowry Prohibition Act. This describes dowry death as a death caused by burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven year of her marriage. And it is shown that soon before her death she was subject to cruelty or in connection with any demand for dowry and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. Section 113A and 113B has been added in the Indian Evidence Act, 1873 because it is very difficult for an aggrieved lady to collect eye-witness of each and every incidence. So burden of proof has been placed on the accused husband to prove his innocence.

Grievous Hurt: Section 320: shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Cruelty: Section 498A: with an object to protect a woman who is being harassed by her husband or relative of husband, such cruelty shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Causing miscarriage without woman’s consent: Section 313: shall be punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extent to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Intentional insult: Section 504: in this section law provides a remedy for using abusive or insulting language, abusive language must be used with an intention to abuse, shall be punished with imprisonment of either to two years or with fine or with both.

Assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty: Section 354: shall be punishable with an imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or both.

Dowry Prohibition Act has also been passed to protect the interest of woman. Violence is being faced by every woman but many of women do not approach in the court at all. In our country wife beating is not considered to be a crime by the society. Violence against women in the four walls is not viewed as seriously as among strangers.
Though we do not identify wife battery as legal parameters, but such characteristics like beating, abusing and insulting women may fill this indentifying offence. This may constitute wife battery.

Section 3 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 says that: "For the purpose of this Act, any act or omission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case if 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) and clause (b), or
(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental to the aggrieved person.

The marital violence as well as wife battery is directed by the husband against the wife. Normally eighty percent of the cases are not reported to the police or other authorities. Out of remaining twenty percent, ten percent or more cases are disposed of by the police without registering the case. Thus only ten percent of the cases of the domestic violence cases are reported to the police. Hundreds of women are battered or even tortured and killed in their homes, but they go on living in traumatic situations because they have no other place to go. By and large neighbors’ do not interfere, even if they here scream for help. When a man tries to intervene, he is asked, why he is so concerned and it is believed that he is perhaps himself involved with the women.

Since the social atmosphere about the battered women is clouded with gender-discrimination an aggrieved lady is unable to get the police help also. The position is similar in India viz-a-vis other countries. It is a reported case of Tracey Thurmans, whose husband Charles abused her even after she left him. Police Officer told Tracey that because her complaints were against her husband, they would have to witness some act of harassment before they would take action. Tracey obtained the injunction order from the court, but the police did not help her. Unfortunately this position is common to our country also. In fact the police do not recognize a domestic violence as a criminal matter.

The Common Law explicitly linked the right of the husband to use force in governing his wife’s behavior and the state policy of non-interference in the private family realm give force to such behavior .The doctrine of family privacy forbade interference and simultaneously condoned such beatings. The views of many police officers today are much like the old Common Law notions explicitly condoning men’s right to batter. Some officers still believe that men are the head of the house-hold and should therefore, have the prerogative to beat their wives. The act of wife battery is continuing in our society form ancient time and this evil practice still available day by day in society. In a recent case such a wife battering is seen in the high ranking social strata.

Recently a case has been reported about Mr. Anil Verma an Indian diplomat in United Kingdom. It is alleged that the diplomat beaten his wife at his London home and his wife Paromita Verma ran crying in to the street in their quiet neighborhoods in North London with blood dripping from her face. The Women and Child Development Minister of Government of India Shri Krishna Tripathi demanded strong action to be taken against the people in power, who commit offences like Verma and the Indian High Commission called domestic violence "totally unacceptable". Noor Jehan Safia niaz of Indian Muslim Women’s Movement sent her view by email that domestic violence continues “unabated” in India.

The Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides a protection not only to a wife but also women who had been in a domestic relationship with any person. In a landmark case Surendra Pathak v. Maya Devi, respondent Maya Devi married to the petitioner (after the death of her late husband Shri. Harpal Singh) and living with him as husband and wife in a shared house. The respondent resorted under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act. The petitioner challenged the protection order on the ground that there is no evidence of marriage. The apex court held that the petitioner had a relationship of husband and wife. She is entitled to get protection from her husband.

In another case Rakesh Sachdeva & others v. State of Jharkhand & others The Hon'ble Court at Jharkhand held that the acts of mental or physical cruelty, which was allegedly inflicted upon her during her sojourn at her matrimonial house and later such acts of cruelty include her forcible separation from the company of her husband and deprivation of her conjugal rights. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is not applied. Enquiry Magistrate directed for enquiry within the period stipulated under sub section 5 of section 12 of the act.

In case of D. Velusamy v. D. Patchiammal, the maintenance order has been passed in favor of a lady who was living as wife but was not a married wife. The Hon’ble Court held "When a wife is deserted, in most countries the law provides for maintenance to her by his husband, which is called alimony. However, earlier there was no law providing for maintenance to women who was having a live-in relationship with a man without being married to him and then deserted by him.

In U.S.A. the expression ‘Palimony’ was coined which means grant of maintenance to a woman who has lived for a substantial period of time with a man without marrying him. The Hon’ble Court held that relationship in the nature of marriage is aligning to common law marriage.

In Lok Ranjan Goswami v. State of U.P. & Others, the wife lodged an F.I.R. against her husband Lok Ranjan Goswami under Domestic Violence Act. Thereafter the accused person came to her residence and started abusing and beating her and tried to turn her out from the house. The Hon'ble Court found that since the accused persons tried to forcibly evict her from the portion under her possession, therefore, such act may be covered under Section 498A IPC.

In case of Matrimonial dispute v. The State of U.P. & Others, the Hon'ble High Court at Allahabad discussed the problem of the misuse of section 498A of IPC. It has been discussed with the High ranking officers and the Govt. Lawyers and the intervener "Sahyog". After hearing the different parties, the Hon'ble Court formulated the following principles as guide-lines: that relating to initial stage to trial of offence under section 498A, discussed various stages like lodge of F.I.R, arrest, mediation cell etc.

(A) Whether arrest of husband and family members mandatory once F.I.R. is lodged?
The Hon'ble Court is of the view that arrest may be necessitated if husband and other in-laws have given a grave beating to the wife endangering her life or where wife has been subjected to repeated violence etc. And in other cases attempt should be made first to bring about a reconciliation and mediation may be resorted.
(B) Whether the registration of an F.I.R. is mandatory?
The Hon'ble Court relied on the law laid down in State of Haryana & others Vs. Bhajan Lal held that Section 154(1) Cr.PC gives no option to the police officer to refuse to lodge the F.I.R. Once information of a cognizable offence is given to the police officer, the officer in charge of the police station is statutorily obliged to register the case and then to proceed with the investigation, if he even has a reason to suspect the commission of an offence.
(C) The Court also observed that there should be mediation cell in each district consist several Govt. & Non-Govt. persons.
(D) The Court was also of the view that the provisions of Section 498A IPC to be made compoundable with the permission of the court.

The Hon'ble Court has, thus, tried to give a guide-line to prevent a misuse of the provisions of 498A IPC most particularly when the in-laws are falsely implicated and they are put to face prosecution. But the above law has considered the only one aspect of the problem. The court did not consider the point, what should be remedy to wife who is battered off and on. Whether such a lady has got no remedy before the law courts? Where the police or law court will not help a lady who is battered by verbal and emotional abuse or is hurt by sexual abuse. If the police feel that a case is to be a petty one, then why it enters into any investigation and calls any person for mediation.


Women Conferences and initiative taken by United Nations in 1993 in Beijing is remarkable efforts; the violence against women is prevalent in whole world. Every country according to own culture taking initiative to save women from violence. Its common belief is that marriage is made in the heaven. Alas! The alarming rise in the number of cases, involving harassment to the newly wedded girls, for dowry shattered their dreams it takes the form of wife-beating and domestic violence. While bride-burning is aggravate manifestation of wife-beating and domestic violence. Wife-beating and domestic violence are common phenomenon affecting the whole family. Even the dowry victims themselves are beaten for a long time before they are ultimately murdered. The genesis of such death lies in the tension created by persistent demands of dowry accompanied by beating and harassment. This problem is not confined to one particular strata of society but it exists everywhere though in different forms. So the above discussion reveals that existing laws to protect “violence against women either Indian Penal Code, 1860 or Domestic Violence Act, 2005, is not sufficient to prevent wife battery. Lots of deliberations are required to amend the existing laws, so that a woman may, including a wife, lead a respectable life with dignity within the four walls of her house and outside. Till such an atmosphere is created throughout the country, the social evil will continue and law will be deficient and the socio-legal problem will continue in our society.


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