Second marriage after divorce not cruelty, domestic violence proceedings by wife is abuse of process of law: Bombay High Court

The respondent wife appeared to be interested in initiating and continuing the criminal proceedings as a tool of harassment against the applicant in-laws, Nagpur Bench observed in the order.
Justice Manish Pitale, Nagpur Bench Bombay High Court
Justice Manish Pitale, Nagpur Bench Bombay High Court

A man entering into a second marriage after divorce will not amount to cruelty or act of domestic violence under the Domestic Violence Act towards his ex-wife, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court ruled quashing proceedings initiated by ex- wife.

Justice Manish Pitale stated that the contention that second marriage amounts to domestic violence cannot be accepted and such a petition amounted to an "abuse of process of law".

"Merely because the applicant No.1 (husband) performing a second marriage cannot come within the definition of domestic violence under Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act" the order stated.

When there was marital discord between the husband and wife, the husband had initiated proceedings for divorce on the ground of cruelty. The Family Court at Nagpur had granted the decree of divorce on the ground that the wife had indeed inflicted cruelty. The same was upheld till the Supreme Court.

After the same, the respondent wife initiated proceedings under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act before the Magistrate in May 2016 including for monthly maintenance, compensation, residence order and other monetary benefits.

She claimed that the "applicant No.1 (husband) had treated her with cruelty, by performing a second marriage".

In response to this, the applicant in-laws filed a cross-plea seeking dismissal on the grounds of tenability of such application.

When the magistrate rejected such application the applicants moved the High Court in appeal for quashing of the proceedings.

The Court opined that the chronology of events of the present case did indicate that the wife sought to invoke the provisions of the DV Act after the proceedings concerning divorce decree had attained finality upto the Supreme Court.

"This demonstrates that the manner in which the proceedings were sought to be initiated under the provisions of the DV Act was nothing but an abuse of process of law," Justice Pitale stated in the order.

He also admonished the wife for keeping her former in-laws engaged in a litigation of this form which prima facie did not satisfy the requirements of the DV Act.

"In any case, the respondent (wife) appeared to be interested in initiating and continuing such proceedings as a tool of harassment against the applicants."

Holding that the Magistrate failed to appreciate these factors while passing the order, the Court quashed the order and the proceedings on the ground "continuance of further proceedings in such a matter would amount to permitting abuse of the process of law".

[Read judgment]

Judgment on Domestic Violence by Manish Pitale J.pdf
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