The Delhi High Court held that the claim for maintenance was a “continuing cause of action”, and wife was not barred from claim it under the Domestic Violence Act 2005 even after a period of three years. It further held that offence of domestic violence under Section 498A IPC has to be treated as a “continuing offence”.
The said ruling was held in the matter of Anthony Jose Vs. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors. [W.P (Crl.) 2325 of 2018] delivered on 05.12.2018
The instant writ petition was sought to quash the FIR and DV Act proceedings as time-barred. The petitioner contended that the FIR registered on complaint of his estranged wife in was time-barred, as they were living separately since August 2014. He relied on Section 468(2)(c) Cr PC, as per which the limitation period for taking cognizance of an offence which is punishable with imprisonment up to three years is three years.
Relying on SC precedent Arun Vyas Vs. Anita Vyas (1999) 4 SCC 690, the HC held that matrimonial offences are to be treated as continuing offence under Section 472 CrPC. The Court referred to Section 473 of the CrPC, which enjoins the Court to condone or ignore delay in the interests of justice. The Court referred to SC decision Vanka Radhamanohari Vs. Vanka Venkata Reddy (1993) 3 SCC 4, which held that while considering question of limitation in complaints of domestic violence, courts should examine the issue from the angle of “interest of justice” under Section 473 CrPC. Because, criminal complaints are filed in matrimonial cases as a last resort most often, the SC observed.
The Court further held that non-providing of maintenance is a continuous cause of action.