Police invoke Domestic Violence Act in suicide case4 Oct 2008, 0247 hrs IST, Asseem Shaikh,TNN
Pune, India. A woman committed suicide by jumping off her sixth-floor apartment building after pushing her two daughters, ages 5 and 4 years, to their death ahead of her. The deceased woman's husband, his brother, and a young woman friend of theirs have all been arrested and charged under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DVA) of 2005. Four other people including the the deceased woman's father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and another woman have also been booked. Using the DVA for criminal matters is new and it isn't clear what type of charges can be made under it against offenders. You can read more about the DVA in India here.
The police justified the arrests by stating that the deceased woman's brother made a statement that his sister was constantly being harassed by her husband and in-laws for not getting some kind of financial assistance to help them by a flat (apartment). The brother claimed that his sister was fed up with daily harassment. She also complained to him about her belief that her husband was having an affair.
This is the first time the DVA has been used to arrest someone, it has only been used in civil litigations in India prior to this time. The Assistant public prosecutor justified the police's action on the grounds that '“the accused had committed domestic violence on his wife Sunita by making frequent money demands to buy a flat”'.
My opinion: With a suicide rate of 154,000 (recorded for whole of India in 2002) if this case is successful in opening up the DVA to be used in criminal cases when woman commit suicide men will be wise to avoid romantic relationships and stay single for life in India. The danger of hooking up with a mentally unstable person (after all mentally healthy people don't usually commit suicide) is significant and would seem hardly worth the risk.