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

By: Shivendra Pratap Singh
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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?

Question from: Haryana

Your sister-in-law is causing domestic violence so you can file a complaint against her. You are living in a shared household under the domestic relationship. Any kind of violence you face in a shared household is constitute a ground for filing a complaint under section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act 2005. Thus, you should file a complaint under section 12 of the D. V. Act.

Scope of Domestic Violence Act

Domestic violence is a vicious or horrible form of violence because it commits within the four walls of the family house. It has multiple forms such as physical abuse, mental abuse, verbal, abuse etc. Therefore, the term domestic violence deals all kinds of abuses committed in a shared household. It also does not confine to the violence between husband and the wife only but includes violence by other family members too. It is not necessary that abuses is living together in a shared house.

The reason behind such abuse is an orthodox and idiotic mindset or a desire to exploit someone for personal benefits. Sister in law commonly found abuser of domestic violence where she has been in a very dominating situation. The provisions of DV Act provides several remedies to the victim thereby protects her from every kind of violence.

Also read: Remedies available under Domestic Violence Act

File a Complaint under section 12 DV Act

It is evident from your question that your sister-in-law is the abuser. According to section 2(q) & 3 of the DV Act, you can file a complaint against her. In Sandhya Manoj Wankhede vs Manoj Bhimrao Wankhede (2011) 3 SCC the Supreme Court has held that aggrieved person can file a complaint against any relative of the husband. Hence, your complaint against sister in law will sustain.

You can file the complaint either yourself or through the protection officer. You should move a complaint through the protection officer. He will prepare an incident report and send it to the competent court along with the complaint. He will assist you at every stage of proceeding. The Magistrate shall consider the incident report and pass any order seems fit and proper in your case.

Produce evidence along with the complaint

The circumstances of your case recommends that you should seek a protection order. You should also produce some evidence along with the complaint to prima facie prove that respondent (sister-in-law) has committed domestic violence. It is your responsibility to prove that your sister-in-law causes domestic violence. Thus burden of proof lies upon you. You can prove it either through direct evidence or circumstantial evidence.

Also Read: What is protection order?

Your sister-in-law is humiliated and threatened you on several occasions. She did not inflict any physical or bodily injury. Such a humiliation comes within the meaning of verbal and emotional abuse.

The DV Act regards the insult, humiliation, ridicule, name-calling, repeated threats etc. as verbal and emotional abuse. Those abuses do not inflict any visible mark on the body, hence, you cannot produce direct evidence of verbal and emotional abuses. You should prove it by the circumstantial evidence. State all the incidents and circumstances in the complaint.

Also read: When the wife is entitled to get alternate accommodation

You can seek a protection order under section 18 of the DV Act. Through this order, the court shall prohibit your sister in law from committing, aiding or attempting to commit any kind domestic violence. However, you can also seek a residence order (section 19) for restraining the respondent from expelling you from the shared household. You have right to reside in the matrimonial home. Thus residential order will restrain your husband from dispossessing you from the marital home.

Kanoonirai has been advising in legal issues since October 2014. You can consult a lawyer through online media, telephonic consultation and video conferencing.