[Trigger Warning: The following content contains information on domestic violence which some readers may find disturbing.]
You live in a shared household with your harasser if you:
Have lived with the harasser
In order to seek protection and relief, you must live, or have lived at some point of time, with your harasser in the household. However, it is not necessary that you are residing with your husband at the time of filing a complaint for domestic violence1, or that you are residing with him when the violence took place.2 You just need to have shared a household with the harasser at some point of time.
Have a domestic relationship with the harasser
In order to seek relief and protection from domestic violence, you need to have a domestic relationship with your abuser, in addition to having a shared household with them. For example, if you have lived with your mother-in-law in the same house, and you are being subjected to domestic violence, you can seek relief and protection, as it means that you had a domestic relationship with the harasser and lived with her in a shared household.
However, if you have merely lived in a shared household, but did not share a domestic relationship with the harasser, you cannot file a complaint against domestic violence. For example, if you have a servant who resides in your house, and he beats you up, you cannot file a complaint under this law against him, as you do not have a domestic relationship with him.
Have/do not have a legal share in the house
To claim relief and protection, it does not matter if you have a legal share in the house. This household can be owned/leased by either you, the harasser , or the both of you, and also includes households that belong to the joint family of which the harasser is a part, even if you do not have a legal right in it.
However, if the property is the exclusive, personal property of the parents-in-law, or any other relative of the harasser, you do not have a right to claim any share in that house, as that is not a shared household.3 However, the Court will ultimately decide whether or not to allow you to reside in a particular house according to the facts of the case, so you may be allowed to reside in a house owned by your mother-in-law in some cases. See here for more details on residence orders.
Please note that it is not necessary that the violence has taken place only in the house where you reside; it can take place anywhere.
Some states provide handbooks for ASHA workers where you can find more information on forms on violence, where it can happen and how to file a complaint to seek protection against domestic violence. For example, see this handbook published for ASHA in Chattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
- Sejal Dharmesh Ved v. The State of Maharashtra and Ors 2014 ALL MR (Cri) 636; Rupali Devi v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. (2019) 5 SCC 384.
- Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand & Anr. 2018 (4) RCR (Criminal) 976.
- S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra (2007) 3 SCC 169.