There is no limitation period for filing a complaint under section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act

There is no limitation period for filing a complaint under section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act

Trilochan Singh Vs Manpreet Kaur

Allahabad HC

23/10/2021

MISC. SINGLE No. - 4177 of 2012

About/from the judgment:

The High Court has held that Domestic Violence Act is a beneficial piece of legislation for the protection of women, as such there is no limitation period for filing complaint under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

A Divison Bench was constituted on a reference by a Single Judge, who was skeptic about the Judgment of Single Judges in Akhilesh Kumar Singh and another Vs. State of U.P. and another in Criminal Revision No.885 of 2015 and Santosh Kumar Yadav and five others Vs. State of U.P. and another : 2015 (9 ) ADJ 400.

In these two Judgment, the Single Judges of Allahabad High Court held that in absence of specific limitation being provided for filing complaint under Section 12 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ( in short ‘D.V. Act’), a complaint can be filed at any point of time.

The Single Judge referred the case to Division Bench, as he was of the view that the aforesaid two Judgments are not in consonance with the views expressed by the Supreme Court in the two judgements i.e.

(i) Inderjit Singh Grewal Vs. State of Punjab and another : (2011) 12 SCC 588 ; and

(ii) Krishna Bhattacharjee Vs. Sarathi Choudhury and another : (2016) 2 SCC 705.

Questions Referred:

1 -> Whether the provisions of Section 468 of the ‘Cr.P.C.’ are applicable for filing complaint under Section 12 of the Act as seems to have been held by the Supreme Court in the aforesaid- mentioned two cases?
2 -> Whether a complaint filed under Section 12 of the Act having civil consequences and, therefore, in absence of specific period of limitation being provided, the complaint should be filed within a period of three years from the date of cause of action or whether it can be filed at any point in time?”

Contention

The petitioner argued that Section 28 of the D.V. Act provides that all proceedings under Sections 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 shall be governed by the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short ‘Cr.P.C.’), hence it is clear that Cr.P.C. is applicable.

He further argued that Section 29 provides limitation of 30 days for filing of appeal against order passed under the Act, whereas no limitation has been prescribed for filing of ‘application’ under Section 12 of the D.V.Act. So in such a situation, limitation shall take effect in accordance with Article 137 provided in the Schedule of the Limitation Act. He also argued that where the act of domestic violence is in the nature of offence, Section 468 Cr.P.C. shall apply.

Respondent argued that Section 28 (1) of the D.V.Act provides that provisions of Cr.P.C. shall apply and section 28(2) says that the court may develop its own procedure for disposal of an application moved under sub Section 12, and sub section (2) of Section 23 of the D.V. Act, hence the Limitation Act shall not apply.

They further argued that even Section 468 of Cr.P.C. also, shall not apply because that relates to taking of cognizance of offences and no act of domestic violence for which relief is provided under Sections 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the D.V.Act has been made punishable as an offence under the D.V.Act.

Nature of Domestic Violence Act:

After referring to the provisions of the DV Act, the Court observed that

It is evident from the Act that there is no penal provisions provided in the Act for the person who committed domestic violence against the victim/ aggrieved person.

What has culled out in nutshell is that the D.V.Act is a beneficent legislation, remedial in nature which provides remedies of civil nature.

Answer to Issue No. 1

After referring to various Judgment the Court held that:

The reliefs provided under the D.V.Act are remedial in nature and no act of domestic violence is punishable either by imprisonment or by penalty except as provided under Section 31 i.e. breach of remedial order passed and Section 33 (Penalty for not discharging duty by protection officer).

Section 468 Cr.P.C. speaks about taking of “cognizance of an offence” and the acts of domestic violence described in the D.V.Act are not offences under the D.V.Act, hence taking of the cognizance of offence is out of question, therefore, applicability of Section 468 Cr.P.C. for acting upon the applications moved under Section 12 of the D.V.Act does not seem just and legal. In other words, Section 468 Cr.P.C. has no application as far as the applications under Section 12 of the D.V.Act are concerned.

Answer to Issue No. 2

The Divison Bench held that:

Since the D.V Act is beneficial legislation providing remedies of civil nature for ensuring effective protection to the women against the domestic violence. The legislature in its wisdom has provided no limitation for moving application under its Section 12, so the rigour of provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963 shall not apply and the application so moved cannot be turned down in limine on the ground of limitation alone.

The best approach would be to apply the criteria of within ‘reasonable period’ and what will be the ‘reasonable period’, will be decided on the basis of ‘factual matrix’ of each case, keeping in mind the principle of ‘equity, justice and good conscience”.

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