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Domestic Violence Act - Legal Representative Cannot Seek Monetary Reliefs On Behalf Of Deceased Woman : Bombay High Court

Sharmeen Hakim
9 Jan 2022 8:04 AM GMT
Domestic Violence Act - Legal Representative Cannot Seek Monetary Reliefs On Behalf Of Deceased Woman : Bombay High Court
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The Bombay High Court has ruled that an aggrieved person, as defined under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act), "must be alive at the time of filing of the petition", and someone cannot file an application for monetary reliefs under the act after her demise. Justice Sandeep Shinde, in a judgment last week, dismissed an application filed by a minor girl...

The Bombay High Court has ruled that an aggrieved person, as defined under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act), "must be alive at the time of filing of the petition", and someone cannot file an application for monetary reliefs under the act after her demise.

Justice Sandeep Shinde, in a judgment last week, dismissed an application filed by a minor girl (through her maternal grandmother) "on behalf of her mother" seeking monetary reliefs, streedhan and compensation against her father and paternal grandparents.

The main contention raised by the petitioner Kanaka Sapre was the use of the expression "any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person" in section 12 of the DV Act, which talks about presenting an application before the Magistrate.

"The right to claim monetary reliefs, protection order and compensation under the D.V. Act, are personal-statutory and inalienable rights of the 'aggrieved person.' These rights extinguish on the death of "aggrieved person". For that reason, such rights were not enforceable by legal representatives of "aggrieved person," – Justice Shinde observed while dismissing the Writ Petition.

The court also observed that the meaning of the word "aggrieved person" has to be restrictive in view of the Statement and Object and Reasons of the Act. "Defined expression "aggrieved person" is not inclusive and thus by process of interpretative explanation, its scope cannot be expanded like suggested by the petitioners, as it would counter the Scheme and Object of the Act and would defeat the intention of legislation," the court observed.

The court further said that while the Act does allow an application to be filed "any other person on behalf of aggrieved person", the "other person" cannot maintain an application independently of an "aggrieved person". "Infact, Section 12 of the D.V. Act, simply enables the "aggrieved person" to present an application under the Act through "any other person". That being the Scheme of the Act, "aggrieved person" must be living (alive), while presenting the application," the court ruled.

According to the case details, Suchita and Kedar got married in November 2009 and a daughter was born to them in October 2012. She passed away in October 2013 after prolonged illness. The minor daughter (through her maternal grandmother), filed an application before the Judicial Magistrate First Class in Pune alleging that Suchita was neglected by her husband and in-laws throughout.

"She was subjected to physical, verbal and economic abuses by the respondent, due to which, she suffered serious sickness and was admitted in the hospital in April, 2013 and passed away on 27th October, 2013," the petition alleged, adding that Suchita's parents were taking care of her.

It was further alleged that husband Kedar and his parents did not bother to look after Suchita in her lifetime and even during her illness and that Suchita's mother had spent Rs. 60 lakh on Suchita's treatment and that she had also gifted gold ornaments in the marriage, which were in the mother-in-law's custody.

The application under the DV Act sought return of all the ornaments, Rs. 60 lakh spent on Suchita's treatment and Rs. 50 lakh each as compensation for Kanaka as well as her maternal grandmother. The application was rejected by the JMFC in March, 2019 which was further confirmed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Pune in March, 2021. The daughter then approached the High Court.

Justice Shinde observed that the petitioners did not claim to be aggrieved persons and were asserting their right on behalf of the deceased, who according to them was an "aggrieved person". The court observed that the petitioners were seeking "enforcement of personal rights of the deceased, Suchita, which she had not sought in her lifetime," which cannot be allowed.

Case Title : Kanaka Kedar Sapre and another vs Kedar Narhar Sapre

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 4

Click here to read/download the judgment

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