About the website

What is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005? (PWDVA)

The PWDVA came in to force on the 26th of October 2006 as a National Law spanning all of India except for the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Act is supposed to provide quick protection and relief to women facing domestic violence. Some of the salient features of this Act are:

  • Only women can avail of the remedies provided under this Act.

  • The Act provides a broad definition of violence and includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and economic abuse within the ambit of domestic violence. 

  • A case filed under the PWDVA is supposed to be disposed of within 60 days of filing, with a view to providing women with quick access to justice. 

  • The law recognizes the right of a woman to be free from domestic violence in her natal home as well as her marital home.

  • The law recognizes the rights of couples in informal relationships/ unmarried partners.

  • The Act grants legal recognition to a woman’s right to reside in a ‘shared household’. 

  • Although this is a civil law, women can approach magistrates’ courts (criminal courts) to access their rights under this Act.

  • The PWDVA emphasizes a violence-free atmosphere and creates a social responsibility on the community at large to inform the authorities about domestic violence.

  • The Act makes the government responsible for its effective implementation by ensuring it is given wide publicity. It is also the duty of the government to conduct sensitization training for the stakeholders of the Act. 

A full text of the PWDVA Bare Act can be accessed here 
[ http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/Domestic-Violence/Domestic-Violence-Act-2005.htm ]

What resources are available through this website?

This website, created by the Human Rights Law Network, is meant as a comprehensive online legal resource on domestic violence for lawyers, judges, activists, researchers, and others, and provides the following resources:

National Case Law:  A case bank of judgments passed in the High Courts around the country as well as the Supreme Court of India, that have contributed to the positive development of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. These judgments can be used as reliable case law by lawyers using the PWDVA across the country.

International Resources: 

i) A case bank of landmark judgments on domestic violence from around the world; 

ii) A compilation of National Legislations on domestic violence  from 10 countries; 

iii) International treaties and conventions that India is a party to that oblige the state to take appropriate action against domestic violence. 

Resource Links: Links to other website that provide resources on national and international domestic violence law. 

Why are these resources needed?

1. A number of women facing domestic violence have found it difficult to understand their rights under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in India. While most websites providing legal resources are filled with jargon or require expensive subscriptions, this website provides a valuable starting point for women to understand their rights under the law, as well as providing contact information for organizations in 20 states across the country that can provide aid or advice to women facing domestic violence.

2. This website is provides a free, comprehensive, and easily accessible reference of the positive judgments delivered in the Higher Courts of India, which can be used by lawyers, judges, researchers, legal practitioners, and others, to understand the legal dimensions of domestic violence legislation in India and abroad.

3. In a few cases, the higher courts and Supreme Court of India have made rulings that have not only been favorable to the individual contesting the case, but have clarified and widened the scope of remedies available to women under the PWDVA. Since magistrates and judges often ask lawyers for case law to substantiate their arguments, the resources on case law provided by this website can be useful for this purpose.

4. Since the administration of justice in the various states through the mechanisms provided by the PWDVA have proven inadequate, this website can provide useful legal resources for substantiating arguments in domestic violence cases, as well as for filing Public Interest Litigations for ensuring the government provides the requisite infrastructure for ensuring women facing domestic violence can access their legal rights.

5. It is important for lawyers and activists to understand the successes and failures of India’s domestic violence laws against laws in other countries, as well as against India’s legal obligations under international law. This website is therefore needed as it provides a brief overview of contemporary domestic violence law in an international setting, and serves as a resource for accessing international perspectives on domestic violence case law and legislation.

How were these resources gathered?*

These resources were gathered and compiled at the ‘First National Consultation on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act’, organized by the Human Rights Law Network, Majlis, and a number of other women and human rights organizations in February 2010. The Consultation brought together over 200 lawyers and social activists from 20 states across India, many of whom contributed the judgments and case law that they have successfully used to allow women to access their rights under the PWDVA.

* We would especially like to thank all of the participants at the National Consultation who contributed the judgments that have been made available through this website, Majlis for their sharing the resources in their Ready Referencer of Case Law-“Defending Women Against Domestic Violence”, Ms. Caryma Sa’d, Ms. Ying Ju Su, and Ms. Mahima Achuthan for their research and inputs for compiling the section on International Law.