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Domestic Violence Cases | Undertaking Mediation Is Not Protection Officers' Domain: J&K&L High Court Issues Guidelines

Aasif Wani
4 Jun 2022 4:47 AM GMT
J&K&L High Court Disposes Off PIL Filed By   Kashmiri Pandits Sangarsh Samiti.
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High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, last week, while framing guidelines pertaining to 'protection officer' in Domestic Violence cases said, "It shall neither be the duty of the Protection Officer nor his/her domain to undertake any mediation/conciliation once a Magistrate is seized of a domestic violence case."

The Court said the protection officer is under statutory duty to assist the Magistrate in discharge of his functions under the Act and to carry out directions/orders passed by such Magistrate without making his own interpretation.
A single bench of Justice Javid Iqbal, was dealing with a matter wherein the petitioner, a victim of alleged domestic violence, was allowed by the Additional Munsif, Srinagar to reside in the shared household without being interfered with by in-laws. Munsif Court had also refrained her husband and brother in law from committing any act of domestic violence against her.
The husband of the petitioner, in connivance with his father instituted a civil suit pertaining to the shared household, apparently to defeat the directions passed in favour of petitioner.
The rigmarole of litigation having failed to defeat the petitioners' right to reside in a shared household, the petitioner laid an execution motion before the Munsif Court under Section 151 CPC wherein Protection Officer was directed to ensure compliance with the order passed by the court.
But, the "casual and lackadaisical approach" of the nominated Protection Officer, in implementing the directions of the Trial Court resulted in delay forcing the petitioner to approach the High Court.
The petitioner contended that the protection officer disregarded orders of the trial court and deliberately avoided implementation of the orders by holding a parallel court in order to decide whether the petitioner is to be allowed to live in the shared household or not, thereby forced the petitioner to knock the doors of High Court.
No sooner the petition was taken up by the High Court on 10-11-2021, the Additional Advocate General was directed to produce the Child Development Project Office ( Protection Officer) and Station House Officer before the court.
The petitioner was put in possession of shared household within one week of her filing the petition in High Court and subsequently, she was given the custody of minor child and paid arrears of maintenance in the High Court itself.
Justice Javid Iqbal in an order observed: "Though the Protection Officers ordinarily ought to have no difficulty in carrying out the order passed by the Magistrate under the Act, yet in view of the situation having been noticed in the instant case, a Protection Officer nominated for carrying out the aims and objects of the Act, has failed in discharge of his statutory functions envisaged under the Act despite the clear cut orders having been passed by the Magistrate.
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Keeping in view the facts and circumstances that unfolded through the petition, Justice Javid Iqbal laid down following guidelines:
A. It shall neither be the duty of the Protection Officer nor his/her domain to undertake any mediation/conciliation once a Magistrate is seized of a domestic violence case. The Protection Officer has no mandate to undertake such an exercise.
B. A Protection Officer is under a statutory duty to assist the Magistrate in discharge of his functions under the Act and to carry out directions/orders passed by such Magistrate under the Act as it is without making his own interpretation therein and in the event, a Protection Officer faces any difficulty in understanding purported spirit of a direction or faces any other difficulty thereto, such Protection Officer shall approach the concerned Magistrate for clarification.
C. A nominated Protection Officer shall remain easily accessible to an aggrieved person for any immediate action the aggrieved person may require.
D. A nominated Protection Officer need to be guided by imparting necessary training by the Government viz-a-viz the provisions of the Act and its application so that the purpose and objects of the Act are effectively fulfilled and achieved.
E. The magistrate should as far as practicable ensure the presence of the concerned Protection Officer while passing orders interim orders under the provisions of the Act and make the Protection Officer to understand the nature of the order and the manner in which the same is to be executed. For example, the Protection Officer can get the order for monetary relief under section 20 complied with and executed by the procedure prescribed by CrPC. The Protection Officer should be made to understand his powers for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act as well as orders passed by the magistrate.
Case Title: Neelofar Rasool v/s Imtiyaz Ahmad Ahangar and others

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 38

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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