Legal Advice

Sister-in-law causes domestic violence – What should I do?

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow

Question asked on: 29 Jan, 2017

Question: My sister-in-law causes domestic violence. She is very greedy and tortured me because she did not get proper respect from my parents. I used to ignore her activities because I want peace in my life. She has assaulted me on several occasions and tried to throw me away from the house. She is very influential and my husband does not listen to a single word against her. Being victimize of such violence I have decided to take appropriate legal action against her. Can I file a case against her under the domestic violence act?

Asked from: Haryana

If you are facing domestic violence from your sister-in-law, you may file a complaint against her under the Domestic Violence Act 2005. As you are living in a shared household with her, you have a right to protection against any form of violence under the Act. Section 12 of the Act provides for the right to file a complaint of domestic violence and seek relief for the same.

You may approach the nearest Protection Officer, Service Provider, or Police Station to file a complaint under Section 12 of the Act. The complaint should include details of the domestic violence you are facing, the nature and extent of the violence, and any evidence that supports your claim. The authorities will take necessary steps to ensure your safety and provide you with protection.

It is important to note that the Act defines domestic violence in a broad manner, including physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse. Therefore, any form of violence, including harassment, threats, or intimidation, can be considered domestic violence under the Act.

Scope of Domestic Violence Act

Domestic violence is a particularly heinous form of violence as it occurs within the confines of the family home. It can take on many different forms, including physical, mental, and verbal abuse. The term “domestic violence” encompasses all forms of abuse that occur within a shared household, and is not limited to violence between spouses but also includes abuse by other family members. It should be noted that abuse can occur regardless of whether the abuser is living in the shared house.

Domestic violence is often the result of a regressive and exploitative mindset. One common perpetrator of domestic violence is the sister-in-law, who may hold a position of dominance within the household. Fortunately, the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act offer several remedies to victims, and provide protection from all forms of violence.

Also read: Remedies available under Domestic Violence Act

File a Complaint under section 12 DV Act

Based on the information you have provided, it appears that your sister-in-law is the perpetrator of domestic violence. You have the right to file a complaint against her under section 2(q) and 3 of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act. The Supreme Court has also ruled in the case of Sandhya Manoj Wankhede vs Manoj Bhimrao Wankhede (2011) 3 SCC that an aggrieved person can file a complaint against any relative of the husband, including the sister-in-law. Therefore, it is likely that your complaint against your sister-in-law will be upheld.

If you decide to file a complaint, you may do so either by yourself or through a protection officer. However, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a protection officer who can guide you through the entire process. The protection officer will prepare an incident report and submit it along with the complaint to the appropriate court. The magistrate will consider the incident report and pass any orders that are deemed appropriate in your case.

Produce evidence along with the complaint

Considering the circumstances of your situation, it would be beneficial to apply for a protection order to prevent any further domestic violence from occurring. In order to establish a prima facie case that your sister-in-law has committed domestic violence, it is important to provide some evidence along with your complaint. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that your sister-in-law has been abusive, and this can be done through either direct or circumstantial evidence.

Although your sister-in-law did not inflict any physical or bodily injury, her repeated threats, humiliation, and verbal abuse constitute emotional and verbal abuse under the DV Act. Such abuse may not leave visible marks on the body, making it difficult to produce direct evidence. Therefore, it is advisable to include all incidents and circumstances in your complaint to establish a circumstantial case.

Under section 18 of the DV Act, you can request a protection order to prohibit your sister-in-law from committing, aiding, or attempting to commit any form of domestic violence. Additionally, you can seek a residence order under section 19 to prevent your sister-in-law from expelling you from the shared household. As a resident of the matrimonial home, you have the right to reside in the house, and a residence order can prevent your husband from dispossessing you from your home.