THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Kerala court has cleared a man accused of domestic violence by his estranged wife after it found that the allegations were a cover-up for the latterâ's extramarital affairs.
The court ruled that insurance company executive Honey had levelled the allegations of domestic violence against her husband Shelly after he chanced upon her illicit relationship with her boss.
Kochi additional chief judicial magistrate Cherian K Kuriakose refused to admit the case under the strict Domestic Violence Act that came into force a year ago.
The landmark domestic abuse law allows courts to punish husbands who beat, threaten or even shout at their wives or live-in partners with jail of up to a year and a fine of Rs20,000.
Honey wanted to book her partially-disabled husband under the law for physically abusing her and refusing to send her to her parental home.
Honey alleged she was insulted in public and her relatives not invited to a family function.
Honey also claimed that the villa and the car in her husband's possession were bought from her own income and that Shelly spent nothing.
Honey claimed her husband forced her to leave the house, continued to make abusive calls and spread derogatory stories.
She accused Shelly of withdrawing from a joint decision for divorce and alleged he wanted her to give up claims to the villa besides custody of their child.
However, the court concluded that Honey had made the allegations after Shelly came across messages from her boss.
A few of the messages extracted show that there was clear illicit relationship between Harikrishnan and the petitioner.The evidence discloses that this is not a case of violence against a woman but a clear case of violence against a man in the domestic relationship, for which there is no penalty, the court observed.
Quoting from the messages sent and received by Honey, the court observed that she filed the petition only to counter any criminal proceedings against her and her male friend.
The court observed that it was unfortunate that the Domestic Violence Act has not provided â€œany punishments to such intruders who mar the peaceful family life of the innocent.
The rules prevent husbands from harassing their wives for dowry payments and allow women to complain directly to judges instead of the police.
When a woman files a complaint the onus is on the man to prove his innocence.
It also ensures the woman's right to stay in the family home, regardless of whether or not she has any title in the household.
There has been criticism against the Act, which came into effect on October 26, 2006, saying it was open to manipulation as it allows for a broad definition of what constitutes abuse.
Besides physical and sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse, such as insults or name-calling, and preventing wives from taking up a job or forcing them to leave are also covered by the law.
The Act also covers sisters, mothers, mothers-in-law or any other female relation living with the man.