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Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 – s.2(q) read with proviso thereto – Expression “respondent” in s.2(q) – Interpretation of – Complaint under the provisions of the Act – Whether female members cannot be made parties in proceedings under the Act, as “females” are not included in the definition of “respondent” in s.2(q) – Held: Although s.2(q) defines a respondent to mean any adult male person, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person, the proviso to s.2(q) widens the scope of the said definition by including a relative of the husband or male partner within the scope of a complaint, which may be filed by an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage – Though the expression “female” has not been used in the proviso to s.2(q) also, but, if the Legislature intended to exclude females from the ambit of the complaint, which can be filed by an aggrieved wife, females would have been specifically excluded, instead of it being provided in the proviso that a complaint could also be filed against a relative of the husband or the male partner – No restrictive meaning has been given to the expression “relative”, nor has the said expression been specifically defined in the Act, to make it specific to males only – In such circumstances, it is clear that the legislature never intended to exclude female relatives of the husband or male partner from the ambit of a complaint that can be made under the provisions of the Act. The appellant had filed a complaint, being a Misc. Crl. Application, against her husband (respondent no.1), mother-in-law (respondent no.2) and sister-in-law (respondent no.3) under Sections 12, 18, 19, 20 and 22 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The High Court, by the impugned judgment, confirmed the order of the Sessions Judge in regard to deletion of names of respondent Nos.2 and 3 from the proceedings, upon confirmation of the finding of the Sessions Judge that no female could be made a party to a petition under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, since the expression “female” had not been included in the definition of “respondent” in the said Act. The question which, therefore, arose for consideration in the instant appeal was whether female members cannot be made parties in proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, as “females” are not included in the definition of “respondent” in Section 2(q) of the said Act. =Allowing the appeal, the Court HELD:1. Although Section 2(q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines a respondent to mean any adult male person, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person, the proviso to Section 2(q) widens the scope of the said definition by including a relative of the husband or male partner within the scope of a complaint, which may be filed by an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage. [Paras 11, 12] [267-E-H; 268-A-B] 2. It is true that the expression “female” has not been used in the proviso to Section 2(q) also, but, on the other hand, if the Legislature intended to exclude females from the ambit of the complaint, which can be filed by an aggrieved wife, females would have been specifically excluded, instead of it being provided in the proviso that a complaint could also be filed against a relative of the husband or the male partner. No restrictive meaning has been given to the expression “relative”, nor has the said expression been specifically defined in the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, to make it specific to males only. [Para 13] [268-B-C] 3. In such circumstances, it is clear that the legislature never intended to exclude female relatives of the husband or male partner from the ambit of a complaint that can be made under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. [Para 14] [268-D] 4. Both the Sessions Judge and the High Court went wrong in holding otherwise, possibly being influenced by the definition of the expression “respondent” in the main body of Section 2(q) of the aforesaid Act. Consequently, the trial Court shall also proceed against the said Respondent Nos.2 and 3 on the complaint filed by the Appellant. [Paras 15, 16] [268-E-F] CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal Appeal No. 271 of 2011. From the Judgment & Order dated 05.03.2010 of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur in Criminal Writ Petition NO. 588 of 2009. Garvesh Kabra, Pooja Kabra, Nikita Kabra, Abhishek Chaudhary, Adarsh Upadhyay, Harshvardhan for the Appellant. Satyajit A. Desai, Anagha S. Desai for the Respondents

REPORTABLE
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 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.271 OF 2011
 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.2854 of 2010)

Sou. Sandhya Manoj Wankhade ... Appellant

 Vs.

Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade & Ors. ... Respondents

 J U D G M E N T

ALTAMAS KABIR, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This Appeal is directed against the judgment

and order dated 5th March, 2010, passed by the
 2

Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court in Crl. W.P.

No.588 of 2009, inter alia, directing the Appellant

to vacate her matrimonial house and confirming the

order of the Sessions Judge deleting the names of

the other Respondents from the proceedings.

3. The Appellant herein was married to the

Respondent No.1 on 20th January, 2005, and the

marriage was registered under the provisions of the

Special Marriage Act, 1954. After her marriage, the

Appellant began to reside with the Respondent No.1

at Khorej Colony, Amravati, where her widowed

mother-in-law and sister-in-law, the Respondent

Nos.2 and 3 respectively, were residing. According

to the Appellant, the marriage began to turn sour

after about one year of the marriage and she was

even assaulted by her husband and by the other

respondents. It is her specific case that on 16th

June, 2007, she was mercilessly beaten by the

Respondent No.1, which incident was reported to the
 3

police and a case under Section 498-A I.P.C. came

to be registered against him.

4. In addition to the above, the Appellant appears

to have filed a complaint, being Misc. Crl.

Application No.203 of 2007, on 16th July, 2007,

against all the Respondents under Sections 12, 18,

19, 20 and 22 of the Protection of Women from

Domestic Violence Act, 2005, hereinafter referred

to as "the Domestic Violence Act, 2005". An

application filed by the Appellant before the

Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Amravati, under

Section 23 of the above Act was allowed by the

learned Magistrate, who by his order dated 16th

August, 2007, directed the Respondent No.1 husband

to pay interim maintenance to the Appellant at the

rate of 1,500/- per month from the date of the

application till the final disposal of the main

application and also restrained all the Respondents

from dispossessing the Appellant from her
 4

matrimonial home at Khorej Colony, Amravati, till

the final disposal of the main application.

5. It further appears that the said order of the

learned Magistrate dated 16th August, 2007, was

challenged by Respondent No.1 in Crl. Appeal No.115

of 2007 before the learned Sessions Judge,

Amravati, who by his order dated 2nd May, 2008,

dismissed the said appeal. Aggrieved by the orders

passed by the learned Sessions Judge, the

Respondent No.1 filed Criminal Application No.3034

of 2008 in the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C.

challenging the order dated 16th August, 2007 of the

Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Amravati and the

order dated 2nd May, 2008 of the Sessions Judge,

Amravati. The said application was dismissed by the

High Court on 4th September, 2009.

6. In the meanwhile, the Respondent No.2 filed an

application in Misc. Crl. Application No.203 of

2007 in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, First
 5

Class, Amravati, praying for modification of its

order dated 16th August, 2007 and a direction to the

Appellant to leave the house of Respondent No.2.

The said application for modification was dismissed

by the learned Magistrate on 14th July, 2008 holding

that it was not maintainable. Thereupon, the

Respondent Nos.2 and 3 filed Crl. Appeal No.159 of

2008 on 11th August, 2008, under Section 29 of the

Domestic Violence Act, 2005, questioning the orders

passed by the learned Magistrate on 16th August,

2007 and 14th July, 2008, on the ground that being

women they could not be made Respondents in the

proceedings filed by the Appellant under the

provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and

that the matrimonial house of the Appellant at

Khorej Colony, Amravati, belonged exclusively to

Ramabai, the Respondent No.2 and mother-in-law of

the Appellant and did not, therefore, come within

the definition of "shared house". The said Criminal

Appeal No.159 of 2008 was allowed by the learned
 6

Sessions Judge vide his judgment dated 15th July,

2009. The learned Sessions Judge allowed Criminal

Appeal No.159 of 2008 and set aside the judgment

and order dated 14th July, 2008 and also modified

the order dated 16th August, 2007, to the extent of

setting aside the injunction restraining the

Respondents from dispossessing or evicting the

Appellant from her matrimonial house at Khorej

Colony, Amravati. The Respondent No.1 husband was

directed to provide separate accommodation for the

residence of the Appellant or to pay a sum of

1,000/- per month to the Appellant from the date of

filing of the application till its final decision,

in lieu of providing accommodation.

7. In Criminal Writ Petition No.588 of 2009, the

Appellant herein challenged the judgment and order

dated 15th July, 2009, passed by the learned

Sessions Judge, Amravati, in Crl. Appeal No.159 of

2008, claiming that she had a right to stay in her
 7

matrimonial house. Although, the question as to

whether a female member of the husband's family

could be made a party to the proceedings under the

Domestic Violence Act, 2005, had been raised in

Crl. Appeal No.159 of 2008, the learned Sessions

Judge in his order dated 15th July, 2009, did not

decide the said question and did not absolve the

Respondent Nos.2 and 3 herein in his order, but

only observed that female members cannot be made

parties in proceedings under the Domestic Violence

Act, 2005, as "females" are not included in the

definition of "respondent" in Section 2(q) of the

said Act.

8. The learned Single Judge of the High Court

disposed of the writ petition by his judgment and

order dated 5th March, 2010, with a direction to the

Appellant to vacate her matrimonial house, which

was in the name of the Respondent No.2, with a

further direction to the Trial Court to expedite
 8

the hearing of the Misc. Crl. Application No.203 of

2007 filed by the Appellant herein and to decide

the same within a period of six months. A further

direction was given confirming the order relating

to deletion of the names of the `other members'.

9. Questioning the said judgment and order of the

Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, Mr. Garvesh

Kabra, learned Advocate appearing for the

Appellant, submitted that the High Court had erred

in confirming the order of the learned Sessions

Judge in regard to deletion of names of the

Respondent Nos.2 and 3 from the proceedings, upon

confirmation of the finding of the Sessions Judge

that no female could be made a party to a petition

under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, since the

expression "female" had not been included in the

definition of "respondent" in the said Act. Mr.

Kabra submitted that it would be evident from a

plain reading of the proviso to Section 2(q) of the
 9

Domestic Violence Act, 2005, that a wife or a

female living in a relationship in the nature of

marriage can, not only file a complaint against her

husband or male partner but also against relatives

of the husband or male partner. The term "relative"

not having been defined in the Act, it could not be

said that it excluded females from its operation.

10. Mr. Satyajit A. Desai, learned Advocate

appearing for the Respondents, on the other hand,

defended the orders passed by the Sessions Judge

and the High Court and urged that the term

"relative" must be deemed to include within its

ambit only male members of the husband's family or

the family of the male partner. Learned counsel

submitted that when the expression "female" had not

been specifically included within the definition of

"respondent" in Section 2(q) of the Domestic

Violence Act, 2005, it has to be held that it was
 10

the intention of the legislature to exclude female

members from the ambit thereof.

11. Having carefully considered the submissions

made on behalf of the respective parties, we are

unable to sustain the decisions, both of the

learned Sessions Judge as also the High Court, in

relation to the interpretation of the expression

"respondent" in Section 2(q) of the Domestic

Violence Act, 2005. For the sake of reference,

Section 2(q) of the above-said Act is extracted

hereinbelow :-

 "2(q). "respondent" means any adult male
 person who is, or has been, in a domestic
 relationship with the aggrieved person and
 against whom the aggrieved person has
 sought any relief under this Act:

 Provided that an aggrieved wife or
 female living in a relationship in the
 nature of a marriage may also file a
 complaint against a relative of the
 husband or the male partner."
 11

12. From the above definition it would be apparent

that although Section 2(q) defines a respondent to

mean any adult male person, who is or has been in a

domestic relationship with the aggrieved person,

the proviso widens the scope of the said definition

by including a relative of the husband or male

partner within the scope of a complaint, which may

be filed by an aggrieved wife or a female living in

a relationship in the nature of a marriage.

13. It is true that the expression "female" has not

been used in the proviso to Section 2(q) also, but,

on the other hand, if the Legislature intended to

exclude females from the ambit of the complaint,

which can be filed by an aggrieved wife, females

would have been specifically excluded, instead of

it being provided in the proviso that a complaint

could also be filed against a relative of the

husband or the male partner. No restrictive

meaning has been given to the expression
 12

"relative", nor has the said expression been

specifically defined in the Domestic Violence Act,

2005, to make it specific to males only.

14. In such circumstances, it is clear that the

legislature never intended to exclude female

relatives of the husband or male partner from the

ambit of a complaint that can be made under the

provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

15. In our view, both the Sessions Judge and the

High Court went wrong in holding otherwise,

possibly being influenced by the definition of the

expression "respondent" in the main body of Section

2(q) of the aforesaid Act.

16. The Appeal, therefore, succeeds. The judgments

and orders, both of the learned Sessions Judge,

Amravati, dated 15th July, 2009 and the Nagpur

Bench of the Bombay High Court dated 5th March,

2010, in Crl. Writ Petition No.588 of 2009 are set
 13

aside. Consequently, the trial Court shall also

proceed against the said Respondent Nos.2 and 3 on

the complaint filed by the Appellant.

17. The appeal is allowed accordingly.

 ................................................J.
 (ALTAMAS KABIR)

 ................................................J.
 (CYRIAC JOSEPH)
New Delhi
Dated:31.01.2011
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