Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: The instant revision application was filed before the Court, invoking its revisional jurisdiction under Section 397 of CrPC challenging the judgment and order of the Sessions Court, arising from the judgment and order of the Metropolitan Magistrate on the respective application filed before it by the respondent in this case under various provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (“DV Act”). The single Judge Bench of Sharmila U. Deshmukh J.*, upheld the orders of the Sessions Court and Metropolitan Magistrate granting compensation of Rs. 3 Crores, and a monthly maintenance of Rs. 1,50,000, amongst other reliefs.

Background and Legal Trajectory of the Case

The Applicant (husband) and the Respondent No.1(wife) are American citizens of Indian origin, married to one another in 1994, solemnized both, in India and the US. Close to 10 years post their marriage, the former couple returned to India and resided in a jointly owned property in Mumbai (“matrimonial house”).

The case of the wife was that she was subjected to physical and emotional abuse by the husband by casting aspersions on her character, leveling allegations of extra-marital affairs and other physically harmful acts. Following this repeated behavior, the wife consulted a psychiatrist to diagnose her husband, who diagnosed him as delusional. However, the husband refused treatment. In 2008, after the husband tried to suffocate her with a pillow, the wife went to reside with her mother where she is residing till date.

In 2017, the husband filed divorce proceedings in the US Court. In the same year, the wife filed an application u/ss 12, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22 of the DV Act before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, 61st Court, Kurla. In early 2018, the American Court granted Decree of Divorce dissolving the marriage between the parties. In the meantime, the wife’s interim application u/s. 23 of the DV Act for maintenance, possession of the former matrimonial house flat, restraining orders against the transfer of flat and alternate accommodation and compensation, came to be rejected by the Metropolitan Magistrate.

The husband’s response to the wife’s afore-stated application was discarded by the Metropolitan Court due to his absence during cross-examination.

The Trial Court held that the wife was subjected to economic abuse which also amounted to domestic violence. The Trial Court declined to grant relief of possession of the flat and directed payment of Rs 75,000 per month towards separate alternate accommodation. After comparing the income of the parties, a sum of Rs.1,50,000 was directed to be paid towards the maintenance. Regarding the stridhan jewellery claimed by the wife, the Trial Court held that the wife was entitled to the same.

Lastly, on the issue of quantum of compensation, the Trial Court considered the documentary evidence on record regarding the income of the husband and directed him to pay a compensation of Rs. 3,00,00,000 (Rs 3 Crores) to the wife.

The Appellate Court held that there was sufficient evidence on record to prove the domestic violence. On the issue of maintenance, the Appellate Court upheld the decision of the Metropolitan Court (Trial Court).

Aggrieved with the afore-stated orders, the husband knocked on the doors of the High Court with the instant revision petition.

Court’s Analysis

The Court stated that domestic violence is undoubtedly a human rights issue and serious deterrent to development. The DV Act was enacted to protect the constitutional rights of women and to provide remedy under civil law to protect women from domestic violence.

The Court also clarified that that the conduct of the parties prior to the coming into force of DV Act can be taken into consideration while passing the order and relied on the cases of Shalini v. Kishor, (2015) 11 SCC 718, V D Bhanot v. Savita Bhanot, (2012) 3 SCC 183, and Saraswathy v. Babu (2014) 3 SCC 712 to cement this stance.

Referring to the contention of “subsisting domestic relationship” in the present case, the Court considered and reaffirmed the judgment of Juveria Abdul Majid Patni v. Atif Iqbal Mansoor (2014) 10 SCC 736 relied upon by the Trial Court, wherein, it was held that once an act of domestic violence is made, a subsequent decree of divorce will not absolve the liability of husband from the offence committed or to deny the benefit to which the aggrieved person is entitled under the DV Act.

The Court stated that the acts of domestic violence complained of, need not be substantiated by documentary evidence in form of medical or police reports. The Court stated further that,. “It is well known that as the marriage is subsisting, more often than not there is no police complaint filed and the physical abuse may not be to such an extent so as to require hospitalization, in which case the medical record would substantiate the abuse”.

About the nature of domestic violence proceedings, the Court pointed out that despite being governed through criminal law, the remedies granted thereof are civil in nature. Therefore, the principle of beyond reasonable doubt, as applicable to other criminal offences, is inapplicable in domestic violence cases. The Court, therefore, upheld the findings of the Metropolitan Court and Sessions Court vis-à-vis domestic violence in the instant case.

The Court also agreed with the comparative analysis of the parties’ income done by the Trial Court and Appellate Court vis-à-vis determining quantum of maintenance granted to the wife.

Sharmila U. Deshmukh, J. stated that, both the parties are well educated and highly placed individuals, professionally and socially, therefore, the acts of domestic violence would be greater felt by the wife here, affecting her self-worth. She clarified that this does not mean that domestic violence victims from other socio-economic strata are not impacted.

The Court further agreed with the observation by the Trial Court that the wife can be said to be left with no prospects as regards her personal life due to her being subjected to domestic violence from 1994-2008. Therefore, upholding the decision of the Trial Court, the Court said that quantum of compensation has been rightly decided considering the status and income of the parties.

Thereby, the High Court without interference, upheld the judgment and order of the Trial Court and the Appellate Court, and dismissed the instant Revision Application.

[Kaushal Arvind Thakker v. Jyoti Kaushal Thakker, 2024 SCC OnLine Bom 895, decided on 22-03-2024]

Judgment by Justice Sharmila U. Deshmukh

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Advocates for the Applicant: Vikramaditya Deshmukh and Sapana Rachure

Advocates for the Respondent(s): Jyoti K. Thakker, R1 appearing in- person

Amicus Curiae: Ashutosh M. Kulkarni

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.