A division bench of Apex Court declared the act of imposing cost of DV complainant to examine witnesses.
Bhawna Vs Bhay Ram and Ors on 17 Feb 2023
The appellant is the complainant in a case under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. In the trial, the right of the appellant to lead evidence was closed and the complaint was rejected. Therefore, the appellant had filed an appeal. The Appellate Court allowed the appeal directing the trial court to reopen the case and allow the appellant to lead evidence subject to her paying cost of Rs.20,000/- per witness. When the appellant moved the High Court against the said order, the High Court reduced the cost to Rs.10,000/- per witness. In addition, the Appellate Court as well as the High Court said that the appellant will not be entitled to maintenance during the said period.
In a complaint filed under the Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, it is not open to the Court to impose such onerous conditions upon the appellant, who claims to be a victim of domestic violence. What the Appellate Court and the High Court have ordered are actually in the nature of penalty for the appellant not proceeding with the trial. In the first instance, it is impermissible in law.
Therefore, the appeal is allowed and that portion of the order of the Appellate Court and the High Court imposing the cost upon the appellant for examination of every witness and also depriving the appellant of interim maintenance is set aside.
The trial court shall permit the appellant to lead evidence without imposing the onerous conditions.
Physical presence of the parents-in-law of the appellant, who are also the respondents herein, shall be dispensed with by the trial court.
Index of DV cases is here.