As a law firm specializing in family and matrimonial matters, we believe that Section 5 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (India) is an essential provision that offers protection to women who are victims of domestic violence. This section empowers magistrates to pass orders directing the respondent not to dispose of assets or create any third-party interests in them.
This provision arises out of the recognition that one common form of economic abuse in cases of domestic violence is the disposal or dissipation by the abuser of joint assets, which denies women their rightful share in these properties. The order prohibiting such dispositions or transfers therefore provides a crucial safeguard against economic abuse and ensures that women have access to remedies under this act.
The provision has been widely interpreted by courts across India with several landmark judgments affirming its applicability and importance for protecting women from domestic violence. In the case of Sunita Kumari v. Anil Kumar Singh & Ors.,^1the Court held that once there are allegations made regarding dowry harassment and domestic violence, it would be appropriate for the court to restrain disposal or transfer by husband off his property until further orders. Similarly, in Vinita Saxena v Pankaj Pandit^2,the Delhi High Court ordered respondent not only not to dispose-off but also not create any encumbrance on his immoveable/moveable properties during pendency
In light of increasing complaints about Non Resident Indian husbands abandoning wives abroad and seeking unilateral divorce through foreign courts without giving due consideration for Indian Marriage Laws, interpretation/enforcement/implementation femur by NRI brides becomes important as well. There are instances when NRIs committed cruelty on their wives staying outside India; Married NRIs apply pressure on their spouse living overseas through various means including withholding maintenance payments / transferring matrimonial property along with exploiting children’s custody arrangements etc.
To ensure protection against such unfair practices especially when assets are located outside India, Section 9 of the Act can be deployed by filing a complaint before the Court in whose jurisdiction assets or properties in question is situated . The Court has discretion to issue similar orders under this section prohibiting transfer/ disposal /encumbrance on property lying abroad.
In conclusion, we believe that Section 5 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (India) and its application through judicial pronouncements offers significant protection to women who are victims of domestic violence. For NRIs too seeking remedy against economic abuse through illegal disposal of matrimonial assets held within India or overseas, this provision and allied provisions like S.9 become very helpful tools while battling such forms violations against their rights as an Indian spouse/wife.
1.Sunita Kumari v. Anil Kumar Singh & Ors., AIR2016 SC3502
2.Vinita Saxena v Pankaj Pandit [Delhi High Court; Crl M.C No.1038/2020]
3.Ashwani Kumar @ Mani v Lata Sharma [High Court Of Punjab And Haryana AT Chandigarh ; CRM-M-32159-2020]