Legal Rights of wife in India

Marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman which is recognized by law and by which they become husband and wife. It’s a type of social union between two individuals that establish a certain type of rights and obligation between them, their children and their respective in-laws.

The Constitution has provided many rights to the wife. Some of the key rights are:

  • Right to Streedhan:
    Streedhan is the property which a woman obtains at the time of her marriage, it is different from the Dowry in a way that it is voluntarily gifts given to the wife before or after her marriage and there is no element of coercion. The Courts have clearly said that women will have absolute rights over their streedhan even if it is placed in the custody of her husband or in-laws. The case of Pratibha Rani vs. Suraj Kumar1 also discussed.
  • Right to residence: A wife has the absolute right to reside in a matrimonial household where his husband resides, irrespective of whether it is an ancestral house, a joint family home, a self-acquired home or a rental house.
  • Right to a committed relationship: A Hindu male is bound not to marry any other girl or have an affair with anyone else unless he is legally divorced. In case if the husband having a relationship with any other woman then he will be charged of adultery under section 497 of IPC. His wife has the right to file divorce on the ground of having an extra-marital relationship with any other woman.
  • Right to maintenance by husband: Under section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 a Hindu wife is entitled to claim maintenance from her husband in case if he is guilty of cruelty, desertion, polygamy or has a venereal disease, thereby enforcing her rights in divorce. Under section 25 of this act provides for permanent Alimony and Maintenance. This section allows any court which has jurisdiction under this Act may pass an order upon receiving an application from the aggrieved spouse directing the respondent to pay the applicant for her support and maintenance.
  • Right to live with dignity and self-respect: A wife has the right to live her life with dignity and to have the same lifestyle that of her husband and in-laws have. She also has right to live free from any mental or physical torture.
  • Right to child maintenance: Husband and wife must provide for their minor child. If the wife is incapable of earning, then the husband must provide her financial support.

1 AIR 1985 SC 628

  • Domestic Violence Act, 2005: This Act enacted by the parliament to protect the wife or women from domestic violence by her husband or relatives of her husband. This Act gives the right to the wife to file a petition against her husband or relatives of the husband in case of violation of her rights or if any harm is done to her whether physical, mental or emotional.


protection of domestic violence against women

Even today, women in India and also in other countries, continue to be tortured and beaten behind the closed doors of the house. Women are vulnerable to domestic violence because of the existence of orthodox ideology that they are weaker, both physically and emotionally than men. The reasons for such violence could inter alia be demand for dowry, repeated birth of girl child, refusal to have sex, indulgence in extra-marital affairs, not looking after the in-laws, higher earnings than the male counterpart, mental instability or alcoholic behaviour of the other half or infertility.

Despite of the husband exerting his commanding character, the spouse usually remains quiet and continues to bear all the pain for the reason of securing a good future of her siblings and also for the social customs existing in the society which prevents her from stepping back from such a relation.

In year 2015, 461 cases (8.2% of rise) of domestic violence were registered, of which maximum were from Bihar as per NCRB Reports. Various agencies, both public and private, have come into picture to improve the present state of affairs.

Earlier, in 1983, section 498-A was introduced into the Indian Penal Code recognising domestic violence as a criminal offence, punishable with 3 years of imprisonment and fine. Later, in 2005, the parliament enacted Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, which aimed to protect women against intimate partner violence. It protects the women against physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuses, irrespective of whether it is committed by the male counterpart or his relatives. This statute not only protects the women who are subject to domestic violence but also those who are likely so to be subjected. The Magistrate, under the Act, can order to provide place of stay to the aggrieved person or to pay rent or to leave the shared possession. The court can order the officer-in-charge of nearest police station to provide protection to the aggrieved. Magistrate, while exercising its discretionary powers, can also direct the offender to pay compensation and damages for the mental torture and emotional distress or/and other monetary reliefs, consistent with the standard of living to which aggrieved is accustomed to, so as to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered. Not only the aggrieved but also any person who apprehends such violence against some third party can also raise voice with bonafide intent.

The present day scenario is reversing as the victim is now, in many cases, is reported to have become the victimizer, making wrongful use of this Act to coerce the male spouse and also his family members.

Domestic Violence – It all begins with ‘love’, my lady!

Domestic Violence

For centuries women have been facing various issues and trying to get a hold of things around them so as to make their life easy. These problems may include lack of education opportunity, equality, personal identity, domestic violence, free will and much more. But the most common issue that a woman faces is Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence is an aggressive or violent behaviour, deliberate intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault and/or battery within the home, involving the abuse of a spouse or partner. It is a way of showing power and control over the partner or spouse.

It mainly includes sexual, physical, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The severity and the recurrence of the violence may vary, but the constant element of the domestic violence is consistency in the maintenance of power and control over the other person i.e. the controlling behaviour.

It is a very common practice in almost every community regardless of the gender, race, age, economic status, religion, sexual orientation or nationality. It often goes with emotionally abusive and controlling behaviour. It can often result in psychological trauma, physical injury, and in critical cases, even death.

To protect women from such an outbreak of violence the government of India has laid down some rules. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, states that any woman who alleges to have been subjected to the act of violence and has been in a domestic relationship with the other person (assailant.)

As per the Act, any action will be considered as domestic violence:

  • that causes harm, injury or endangers the safety, life, health or well-being of the aggrieved person whether mentally or physically or tend to do so. It can be sexual, physical, economic, emotional, and verbal abuse
  • that causes harm, injury or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or another person related to her to fulfil any unlawful demand for any property, dowry or marketable security
  • that can cause a life-threatening effect on the aggrieved person, or anyone related to her

Types of Abuse under the Act

Physical Abuse:

Any action that can cause bodily harm, pain, or danger to life, health or impair the development or health of the aggrieved person is physical abuse. It includes criminal force and intimidation, or assault.

Sexual Abuse:

Any conduct of sexual nature that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or violates the dignity of a woman is considered as sexual abuse.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse:

The repeated threats to cause pain to any individual in whom the aggrieved person is interested or insults, humiliation, ridicule, name calling especially for having a male child or any child is considered as Verbal and Emotional Abuse.

Economic Abuse:

  • Depriving the aggrieved person from all or any financial resource which the person is entitles to receive under any law or custom whether under court’s order or otherwise like stridhan or joint or separate property
  • The disposal of assets or household things whether movable or immovable in which the aggrieved person is interested, or entitled to use due to the domestic relationship or is required by her
  • The restriction on the access of the resources or the facilities that the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by way of domestic relationship

The above actions are considered as Economic Abuse.

Every lady has the right to live her life as per her own terms therefore, she should be aware of all the laws laid down to protect her as well as her interest she doesn’t have to be the victim of Domestic Violence.