Proof of Domestic Violence Essential: Karnataka HC Sets Aside Compensation Awarded to Wife Who Changed Religion

In a recent judgment, the Karnataka High Court has clarified that under section 22 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the compensation can only be granted when domestic violence is established.

While dealing with a revision petition filed by a man against the decision of the Sessions Court awarding his wife a sum of Rs 4,00,000 as compensation under Section 22 of the Act, the bench of Justice Rajendra Badamikar held that the decision was erroneous.

The judge emphasised that in the case at hand, both the lower courts had concurrently held that domestic violence was not established, and also, it was an admitted fact that the wife had converted to Christianity.

He further held that in this instance, the wife’s conversion to Christianity had resulted in a loss of her rights, effectively dissolving the marriage, even though no formal divorce had taken place.

“Though there is no divorce between the parties, but, in view of conversion of wife to Christianity, it would disclose that the marriage stands dissolved. Besides, there is no specific declaration passed in this regard by any competent Court of Law,” he said. “After getting converted into Christianity the revision petitioner/wife has lost all the rights vested in her. Under these circumstances, the Appellate Court has committed an error.”

The couple got married in 2000, and out of the wedlock, two children were born. However, the son died in his childhood. After a while, the wife filed a petition under section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, against the husband, claiming that he used to subject her to domestic violence, demanding dowry, and physical ill-treatment.

Before the Magistrate Court, the husband contested the accusations and said that the wife herself had left his company and it was because of her negligence, their son had died. Moreover, he informed the court that subsequently, she got converted to Christianity and tried to convert the female child as well. He further claimed that he was suffering from a paralytic stroke and was unable to maintain himself.

The Magistrate Court concluded that the wife failed to establish any domestic violence and was not entitled to monetary benefits as defined under Sections 18 to 22 of the Domestic Violence Act, ultimately dismissing her petition.

Subsequently, the wife filed an appeal before the Sessions Court, which, while confirming the absence of proven domestic violence, still ordered compensation due to her inability to support herself.

The high court, in its judgement, underscored that both the lower courts had unanimously ruled against the presence of domestic violence in the case and there was also evidence on records to show that the husband was suffering from a paralytic stroke.

“However, the Appellate Court only on the ground that still the marriage subsists and as she is unable to maintain herself, awarded compensation. But, under Section 22 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, compensation can be awarded only if, Domestic Violence is proved,” underscored the court while allowing the husband’s review petition.

Accordingly, the HC set aside the Sessions Court’s order of compensation and reinstated the trial court’s order.

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