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"We, therefore, strike down the words 'adult male' before the word 'person' in Section 2(q), as these words discriminate between persons similarly situated, and far from being in tune with, are contrary to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act," it said.
The major verdict came on an appeal against the Bombay High Court judgement, which had resorted to the literal construction of the term 'adult male' and discharged four persons, including two girls, a woman and a minor boy, of a family from a domestic violence case on the ground that they were not "adult male" and hence cannot be prosecuted under the DV Act.
We may only add that the impugned judgment has ultimately held, in paragraph 27, that the two complaints of 2010, in which the three female respondents were discharged finally, were purported to be revived, despite there being no prayer in Writ Petition... Dealing with the term 'adult', the bench said "it is not difficult to conceive of a non-adult 16 or 17-year-old member of a household who can aid or abet the commission of acts of domestic violence, or who can evict or help in evicting or excluding from a shared household an aggrieved person."Also, a residence order which may be passed under Section 19(1)(c) can get stultified if a 16 or 17-year-old relative enters the portion of the shared household in which the aggrieved person resides after a restraint order is passed against the respondent and any of his adult relatives...".Referring to earlier verdicts, the apex court said, "the microscopic difference between male and female, adult and non-adult, regard being had to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act, is neither real or substantial, nor does it have any rational relation to the object of the legislation." Section 2(q) of the Act reads: "'respondent' means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under DV Act." A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman paved way for prosecution of any person irrespective of gender or age under the DV Act, ordered deletion of the words "adult male" from the statute book saying it violated right to equality under the Constitution.The bench said that the words "adult male person" were contrary to the object of affording protection to women who have suffered from domestic violence "of any kind".The bench said that the term "adult male" contained in the Act was "discriminatory".
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