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The Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that mother-in-law too can be charged under the Domestic Violence Act.

A division bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ajit Bharihoke said, “It is common knowledge that in case a wife is harassed by husband, other family members may also join him in treating her cruelly. And such members would invariably include female relatives as well.”

“If restricted interpretation to the Domestic Violence Act is given, the very purpose for which this act is enacted would be defeated. It would be very easy for the husband or other male members to frustrate the remedy by ensuring that the violence on the wife is perpetrated by female members,” the court said.

The court was hearing the appeal filed by Varsha Kapoor, mother-in-law, against a lower court order that had issued her a notice for violation of the provisions of the Act.

Kapoor had challenged the order, saying a woman cannot charge another woman under Domestic Violence Act.

The petitioner also stated that the act is enacted to protect women from men, and therefore, a woman cannot be respondent in a petition filed by another woman.

“We are afraid there is hardly any merit in the argument. Main provision deals with those who are in a domestic relationship with the respondent, whereas proviso deals with aggrieved wife or a female in live-in relationship,” the court said.

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