Famous Cases of Domestic Violence in India


In many nations, the phrase "domestic violence" is used to describe violence between intimate partners, but it also includes the abuse of children, elders, and any household member. Although domestic violence does not specifically target women, there are many instances of violence and abuse against women, especially when it comes from people the victims know. At least 30% of all women in relationships have experienced physical or sexual violence by their partners, according to the World Health Organization, which estimates that one in every three women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, world over.

Domestic Violence in India 

A crime against women is reported in India every 1.7 minutes, and a woman experiences domestic abuse every 4.4 minutes, according to the National Crime Research Bureau's (NCRB) 2018 Crime in India Report. According to the survey, it also came out on top in the areas of violence against women. According to the report, more crimes against women were committed in India in 2018—89,097 cases—than in 2017—86,001 incidents.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 2015–16, 30% of Indian women between the ages of 15 and 49 had been the victims of physical abuse. According to the study, an alarming 83 percent of married women who report enduring physical, sexual, or emotional abuse name their husbands as the primary offenders, followed by abuse from their husbands' moms (56 percent), fathers (33 percent), and brothers (27 percent).

These numbers don't fully represent the information on violence against women. This is primarily due to the predominance of traditional societal standards and the stigmatisation of victims of sexual or domestic abuse, which leads to a vast underreporting of incidents. In addition, women feel uneasy going to the police because they fear that if their partners are detained, they would be released to even worse abuse and that in the interim, their in-laws or other people might harass them.

Top controversial Domestic Violence Cases in India 

Lalita Toppo v. the State of Jharkhand and Anr. (2018)

Facts of the Case

The Complainant, who was not the Respondent's legally wedded wife, approached the court to obtain maintenance under the terms of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, assuming that she would not be permitted to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, in the case of Lalita Toppo v. the State of Jharkhand and Anr. (2018), which was heard by the Supreme Court of India.

The appellant in this case was in a live-in relationship with her partner, with whom she had a child. The Gumla Family Court granted the appellant's request for support when the couple separated, granting her Rs 2000 per month and Rs 1000 for her child. In response to the appellant's appeal, the High Court reversed the family court's decision and ruled in the partner's favour. Following that, the Appellant went to the Supreme Court.

Issue involved in the Case

Can a live-in partner file a maintenance claim under the 2005 Domestic Violence Act?

Decision made by the court

A live-in partner will be entitled to even more remedy than that provided for under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, according to a three-judge Supreme Court panel made up of the then-CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices U.U. Lalit, and K.M. Joseph. The bench referred to the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act and stated that even though the petitioner in this case is not the legally married wife and is not therefore required to be maintained under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, she would have a remedy to seek maintenance under the Act.

The Court further noted that, in accordance with the Domestic Violence Act's provisions, economic abuse is also considered a form of domestic violence.

Inder Raj Malik vs Sunita Malik (1986)

Facts of the Case

Sunita Malik, the complainant in this instance, was married to Inder Raj Mailk, the respondent. After their marriage, the complainant Sunita was maltreated, starved, and mistreated by her husband and in-laws, especially during festivals, in order to obtain more and more money and possessions.

She was once subjected to severe physical and mental abuse in her marital house to the point of fainting, but no doctor was contacted for a check-up.

If Sunita Malik didn't force her parents to sell their land in Hauz Qazi, her mother and brother-in-law threatened to kill her and abduct her. As a result, it was determined that the complainant, Sunita Mailk, had endured terrible treatment from her husband and in-laws, including physical torture. To coerce Sunita Malik or anyone connected to her into fulfilling an unlawful obligation for both moveable and immovable property, harassment was used.

Issues involved in the case

  • Are the provisions of Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution's Double Jeopardy clause applicable to Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code from 1908 and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act from 1961?
  • Does the Indian Penal Code, 1908's Section 498A violate the law?

Decision made by the Court 

The Delhi High Court had to determine in this case whether a defendant may be found guilty under dowry Laws. The Court determined that a person is not subject to double jeopardy if they are found guilty under both Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1956 and Section 498A of the IPC. The Court determined that Section 498A, IPC, and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act are separate laws since Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act only punishes acts of cruelty committed against newlywed women, whereas Section 498A also punishes the mere demand of dowry. This leads one to the conclusion that a person could be charged with a crime under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act as well as Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

Hiralal P Harsora and Ors vs Kusum Narottamdas Harsora and Ors (2016)

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in this case were a mother-daughter duo named Pushpa and Kusum Narottam Harsora. They made a complaint saying that domestic abuse was committed by Pradeep (son/brother), his wife, and her two sisters. Since a complaint may only be made against a "adult male" in accordance with Section 2(q), the Respondents requested that the Metropolitan Magistrate free Pradeep's wife and two sisters/daughters. Application from the Respondents was turned down.

The definitions under Sections 2(a), 2(f), and 2(s) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act shall be taken into consideration when reading Section 2(q) of the aforementioned Act, the Bombay High Court concluded. In essence, this ensured that both the "adult male member" and female family members may be the subject of a complaint. However, a domestic abuse complaint cannot be made exclusively against the female household members. Male adult must be a co-respondent. As a result, the Court did not define "adult male person" further. The mother and daughter duo then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ.

Issue involved in the Case

Whether women are subject to liability under the 2005 Domestic Violence Act?

Decision made by the Court 

The adult man was eliminated from the definition of "Respondent" by the Supreme Court, who ruled that it was not based on any discernible distinction that had anything to do with the goal that was being pursued. In the same case, the Supreme Court made it clear that women and children are among those who may file claims for relief under the DV Act. The phrase "adult male person" in Section 2(q) cannot be used to limit the word "Respondent" in Section 2(q) or those who can be considered perpetrators of violence against women or against whom remedies under the DV Act are enforceable. As a result, even against female members and minors, the DV Act's remedies are available.

Sandhya Wankhede vs Manoj Bhimrao Wankhede (2011)

Facts of the Case

After getting married in 2005, the appellant Sandhya resided with R1, R2, and R3 for almost a year, which created issues in her marriage. In accordance with Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, she reported her husband to the police for hitting her. Additionally, she filed a request for maintenance payment from R1 against all three Respondents, which the First Class Judicial Magistrate approved. Additionally, none of the Respondents were permitted to attempt to evict the Complainant from her marital residence. R1 had filed criminal appeals and applications, but these were turned down by the Sessions Judge and the High Court. R2 and R3 submitted an application to the First Class Magistrate, but it was turned down. In their appeal, they argued that women could not be respondents in DV cases. The Appellant was able to be evicted from her marital residence, which was wholly owned by R2, when the Court agreed and overturned the decision. It was not a "shared house" as a result. However, the Court ordered R1 to provide separate lodging or, in the absence of that, to make further money for it. The determination that "females" are not included under "Respondents" was the basis for the Sessions Court's response to the appellant's appeal.

The HC adopted a similar attitude, striking the names of R2 and R3 from the proceedings, and directing the Appellant to vacate the marital residence. This is why the appeal was made.

Issue involved in the Case

Does the Domestic Violence Act only allow complaints to be made against adult males and not the husband's female relatives, such as the mother-in-law and sister-in-law?

Decision made by the court

But in the aforementioned case, the Supreme Court answered the query by holding that the provision to Section 2(q)'s does not bar female relatives of the spouse or male partners from filing a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act. So, in addition to the adult male, the adult male's female relative may also be the target of complaints.

VD Bhanot vs Savita Bhanot (2012)

Facts of the Case

The Respondent (wife) in this case was ejected from her marital home on July 4, 2005, after the parties' marriage on August 23, 1980.

Then, in accordance with Section 12 of the DV Act, the Respondent submitted a petition to the Magistrate.

The Magistrate gave the wife temporary relief in the amount of Rs 6,000 and thereafter issued a protection/residence order in accordance with Sections 18 and 19 of the DV Act to safeguard her right to live in her marital home in Mathura.

The husband, who had been in the military, had retired and had submitted an application to have his wife removed from the public housing.

In light of this, the Magistrate ordered the petitioner to provide his wife permission to live on the first floor of their marital residence or, in the event that neither of those options is practical, to locate alternative housing nearby or to pay Rs 10,000 in rental fees.

Since she disagreed with the Magistrate's ruling, she preferred to appeal.

The appeal was dismissed, and the Additional Sessions court stated that "the claim of a woman living in a domestic relationship or residing together prior to 26.10.2006 was not maintainable" since "the applicant left the married residence on 4.7.2005 and the Act came into effect on 26.10.2006."

The HC looked at this legal matter after receiving an appeal. Despite the fact that the action was done before the Act went into effect, it was ordered to be maintained.

Issue involved in the Case

Does The Domestic Abuse Act, 2005 include domestic violence victims who were hurt before that year?

Decision made by the court

The Supreme Court ruled in accordance with the HC's justifications and stated that:

The Delhi High Court, in our opinion, has also correctly decided that even a wife who had previously shared a household but was not doing so at the time the Act went into effect would still be entitled to the protection of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. A suitable portion of the petitioner's home and 10,000 rupees per month for her support were granted by the court due to the respondent's advanced age. The Act should be interpreted in favour of women who are domestic violence victims because its purpose was to protect women from abuse. The Legislature wanted to extend protection to women who had experienced domestic abuse before the Act was passed. The definitions of "aggrieved individuals" and "domestic relationship" in the Act make this clear.

Since the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a civil remedy and the criminal offences covered by the Act's penalties cannot have occurred before it went into effect, retroactively executing the Act is not in violation of Article 20(1) of the Indian Constitution.

Rajesh Kumar and Others vs State of UP (2017)

Facts of the Case

Rajesh Sharma, the appellant in this case, married Sneha Sharma, the respondent, on November 28, 2012. Sneha's father did his utmost to provide the dowry, but the appellants weren't happy with it. They started berating or harassing the complainant and demanded a car and Rs. 3,000,000. The Appellant had left the Complainant at her home because the pregnancy had been aborted. The Appellant was summoned on that day in accordance with Sections 498A and 323 of the IPC. The Appellant and his family were sued by the Appellant's wife. She asserted that she was tortured by her husband and his family, who wanted dowry when she was pregnant, leading to the termination of her pregnancy.

The High Court turned down the Appellants' appeal asking for the summons to be cancelled. As a result, the Appellants appealed the High Court's ruling to the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the Appellants had no plans to demand dowry.

Issues involved in the case

  • Is it necessary to reduce the propensity for involving the entire family in settling a marital conflict?
  • Is the IPC's Section 498A being misused or not?

Decision made by the court

In this instance, it was decided that no one would be imprisoned until the "Family Welfare Committee" dealt with Section 498A of the IPC and delivered justice to the complainant in order to protect the innocent person, in this case the husband as well as their relatives. The committee's main objective is to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent cases. to assist those who have been the target of bogus complaints. The defendant who wasn't in the area cannot be excused from appearing in court personally and must do so through video conferencing.

The egregious misapplication of Section 498A of the IPC has been acknowledged by the Supreme Court. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the dowry-related offences should be prosecuted and that the husband and married man should not be harassed or persecuted any more. Additionally, this group wants to ensure that the rights of innocent persons are restored.

Arrest and court remand are not the answer since "the spouse and his family members may have various points of view in the conflict." Every legal system's ultimate objective is to protect the innocent while punishing the evil.

Arnesh Kumar vs The state of Bihar & Anr (2014)

Facts of the Case

Arnesh Kumar (Appellant) and Sweta Kiran (Respondent) were married on July 1, 2007, and this is their case. Sweta Kiran said in court that her in-laws demanded Rs. 8 lakhs, a Maruti car, an air conditioner, a television, and other stuff, and that when Arnesh Kumar learned of this, he supported his mother and threatened to marry someone else. She further asserted that because the dowry demand was not satisfied, she was kicked out of her marital home. Arnesh Kumar denied the allegations and requested anticipatory bail, however both the learned Sessions Judge and the High Court rejected his request. As a result, Arnesh Kumar petitioned the Supreme Court for special leave.

Issues involved in the case

  • If a person is suspected of committing a cognizable offence, must a police officer make an arrest in response to a complaint?
  • What remedies are offered to a person if a woman takes advantage of section 498A of the IPC?
  • Should the Appellant be given a promise to appear bail?

Decision made by the court

The appellant was given conditional interim discharge by the Supreme Court. The Apex Court said that “Section 498A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence and has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision.” 1,97,762 persons were detained in India in 2012 for breaking Section 498A of the IPC, as reported in the "Crime in India 2012 Statistics." Charge-sheeting rates for cases covered by Section 498 A of the IPC can reach 93.6 percent, although conviction rates are just about 15%. This information unequivocally shows how this component has been misused. The easiest way to stop harassment is to use this clause to imprison the spouse and his relatives. The Apex Court gave some necessary instructions for Police to follow before holding a person in order to deter unjustified arrests of accused.

Bibi Parwana Khatoon vs State of Bihar (2017)

Facts of the Case

According to the facts of this case, a woman was slain by her husband and her relatives who set her on fire. The district court and the High Court rendered decisions against the husband and his family in a case that was brought against them. The victim's brother-in-law and sister-in-law then filed an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the conviction.

Issues involved in the case

Do the appellants share the same criminal intent as the offender?

Decision made by the court

The bench decided that both the lower courts made legal errors in deciding that the charge under Section 304B read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 held against the current Appellants after hearing the case and examining the facts.

The deceased's sister-in-law and brother-in-law, the current Appellants, cannot be established to have abused the victim in exchange for any such dowry demand based on the material provided.

Furthermore, it cannot be established by circumstantial evidence that the appellants and the deceased's spouse shared any common motives in the conduct of the crime.

Furthermore, it is abundantly clear from the supporting documentation that they once lived in a different village.

Kamlesh Devi vs Jaipal and Ors (2019)

Facts of the Case

According to the petitioner Kamlesh Devi in this case, she and the Respondents are related and have lived on the same property together for a long time. The petitioner has three children—Urmila, Anusaya, and Gaytri—and her spouse is a retired BSF officer. The petitioner's two unmarried daughters, Anusaya and Gaytri, are students at Krishna Nagar College. Respondents Jaipal, Krishan Kumar, and Sandeep followed the Petitioner's daughters Anusaya and Gaytri to their college, insulted them, and engaged in indecent behaviour with them. They have also established a group and are argumentative people.

The Respondents' written apology was presented on 5.8.2008 in front of respected villagers as a result of Sube Singh, the petitioner's spouse, also filing a complaint against them with the Sarpanch of Village Gaud. After a brief period of normalcy, they quickly resumed their offensive behaviour. As a result, the complaint was submitted after exhausting all other avenues for domestic abuse protection.

The Trial Court found that none of the witnesses on record proved a fact to the effect that the Respondents and the petitioner were sharing a home and that the Respondents had engaged in domestic abuse against them after considering the provisions of the Act.

The trial court further decided that no allegations of violence of any kind were made against the property of the joint home. The Ld. Magistrate threw out the case. An appeal that was brought before the High Court was also denied.

Issues involved in the case

If the Respondents are accountable for domestic abuse?

Decision made by the court

The High Court rightly found that the components of domestic abuse were totally absent in this case, according to the Supreme Court. There is no shared residence between the petitioner and respondents. Unspecific allegations state that the respondents are relatives. Between the Respondents and the petitioner, there isn't even a whisper. They appear to live nearby. The special leave petition was thus rejected.

Ajay Kumar vs Lata Sharuti (2019)

Facts of the Case

The Respondent and the Appellant Lata used to reside together in a Hindu Joint Family Property; the Appellant is the Respondent's brother-in-law, or more specifically, his brother's widow. There do not appear to be any provisions in the Act that compel the Appellant to provide support to the Brother's wife, according to the lawsuit submitted to the Supreme Court. He wouldn't have to pay the maintenance unless they were partners in a firm.

In accordance with Section 12(1) of the Domestic Violence Act, a person may ask a magistrate for assistance or financial compensation for losses suffered by her or her child as a result of domestic violence. However, this exclusion does not apply to maintenance orders made pursuant to Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law.

The woman claimed that after her husband passed away, she was forced out of her marital home and evicted along with her child, leaving her and her child without any means of support.

Issue involved in the Case

Can my brother-in-law be considered a "Respondent" as defined by Section 2(q) of the DV Act?

Decision made by the court

In this case, the Supreme Court decided that a brother-in-law could pay maintenance to a widow under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The Supreme Court rejected the Appellant's claim that any adult male who is or has has been in a domestic relationship with a partner against whom the remedy is sought qualifies as a "Respondent" under Section 2(q) of the Protection Women from DV Act. The woman and her brother-in-law were defined as having a domestic relationship by the Supreme Court, who also declared that they were a single family.


A very promising piece of legislation that combines civil and criminal penalties to provide effective remedies to women who become victims of domestic abuse is the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The law, among other things, contains provisions for protection officers, medical facilities, and no-cost orders to help wronged women defend themselves and their loved ones. The Act is not without problems, though. It is obvious that the Act's implementation has to be improved.

In particular, if the person who has been wronged comes from a low-income or socially disadvantaged area, officers commonly fail to file an First Information Report (FIR), which is the first step in starting a police investigation. It is also true that the DV Act has not adequately addressed the problems that both men and women face in relation to domestic violence, and that the law is usually implemented incorrectly when it is. In order to prevent domestic violence from creating fear in the hearts of innocent people, as most men do, and from providing the other gender a tool for extortion, society needs more gender-neutral laws that treat men and women equally in these situations. The DV Act initially seems to be biased against women. To prevent abuse, advance gender equality, and provide just justice, the DV Act should be revised to include more gender-neutral provisions.