In a decision dated 17 November 2016, a single-judge bench of Rajasthan high court, Jaipur bench, has declined to grant monetary relief to a woman under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, when she is well-educated and is capable of earning well. This order was passed by Justice Prashant Kumar Agarwal in S.B.Criminal Revision Petition No.670/2016 [Geeta Singh v. State of Rajasthan & Anr.].
In this case, the Respondent No. 2 is working as a senior officer (of Indian Civil Services) in Rajasthan Government. The petitioner (who is his wife) is also a civil servant being in RAS (Rajasthan Administrative Service). They have a daughter Geetanjali who is of the age of about 31 years. The petitioner averred in the complaint that she and her daughter are aggrieved persons within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. One of the reliefs sought is that respondent may be directed to pay 700 pounds per month as living expenditure under Section 20 of the said Act for the period from September 2014 to April 2015 as arrear accrued for that period and thereafter from May 2015 onwards to daughter Geetanjali as presently she is pursuing her higher studies at Cardiff University, England. It was further averred that petitioner wife has taken a loan of Rs. 16 lacs from a bank for the further education of their daughter in England. It was also averred that respondent husband is getting Rs.1,96,000/- per month as salary but he refused to incur the living expenses of the daugher Geetanjali. Petitioner sought interim relief as per Section 23 of the Act during the pendency of the complaint. In his reply to the complaint, it was averred by the respondent husband that presently age of their daughter is 31 years and all her school and college education expenses were incurred by him and even educational and all other expenses for her higher studies at Nottingham, England in the year 2009 were incurred by him. It was further averred that Geetanjali was sent for further studies/education to England by the petitioner wife without the consent of respondent husband, rather against his wishes. It was also averred that daughter Geetanjali is a mature girl of 31 years capable of earning her own income and that petitioner wife, an officer of the Rajasthan Administrative Services, is presently getting Rs.1,40,000/- as salary and she is capable to incur all expenses which are being sought from the respondent.
The high court noted that as per Section 20 of the said Act, all expenses incurred by an aggrieved person as a result of the domestic violence can be awarded to the aggrieved person from the respondent but such expenses must be incurred by the aggrieved person as a result of domestic violence committed by the respondent. As per sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Act, the monetary relief must be adequate, fair and reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed. Sub-section (1) of Section 23 provides that in any proceeding under the Act, Magistrate may pass such interim order as he deems just and proper.
The high court further held that in the present case, it cannot be denied that being daughter, Geetanjali has domestic relationship with the respondent (who is her father) as per clause (f) of Section 2 of the said Act, but only by that reason she cannot claim to be an aggrieved person unless it is further found that she was subjected to some kind of domestic violence by the respondent.
Referring to the definition of domestic violence in Section 3 of the said Act, the high court held that for that purpose, “economic abuse” would include deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity and also maintenance.
But, the high court observed that the question in the present case is whether refusal by the respondent to incur living expenses of his daughter can be said to be commission of economic abuse. No law or custom has been shown by the petitioner under which a well educated daughter of the age of more than 30 years can claim her living expenses to the tune of 700 pound per month for pursuing her further higher studies from a foreign University. According to this provision deprivation of economic or financial resources which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity also amounts to economic abuse. For the applicability of this part of the provision, requirement of the aggrieved person must be out of necessity.
The high court observed that each and every expenses incurred or to be incurred by the aggrieved person for her study cannot be termed to be a requirement out of necessity. Expenses incurred or to be incurred by daughter of a person for her reasonable studies can be said to be a requirement out of necessity but living expenses incurred or to be incurred by a daughter for pursuing her further higher studies from a foreign University and more particularly in view of the fact that she has already obtained a post graduate degree from a reputed University in India and has already taken further studies from a foreign University and who is capable of earning her own income by joining a job and who has joined her further studies without the consent of his father rather against his wishes cannot be said to be a requirement out of necessity and even if father has refused to bear such expenses, it cannot be said that the daughter has been subjected to economic abuse within the meaning of the Act.
It was further held that although, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act has been enacted to provide more effective protection of the rights of women but that does not mean that a woman can claim any expenses as monetary relief from the respondent. Unless the act of the respondent comes within the purview of the domestic violence as specified under Section 3 of the Act and unless the petitioner is an aggrieved person, no relief can be granted to her.
Accordingly, it was held that in the facts and circumstances of the case, it cannot be said that Geetanjali has been subjected to economic abuse within the meaning of the Act. Consequently, the revision petition for grant of monetary relief was dismissed.