The Union Women and Child Development Ministry under Maneka Gandhi in 2014-15 wanted to arm National Commission for Women (NCW) with more criminal court powers. Thankfully, the same was later dropped after Ministry of Law & Justice under Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the same.
Officials in the law ministry then told media,
It was felt that asking for more power for NCW will lead to conflict with states and therefore we are not pursuing the proposal anymore.
Gandhi had pushed for the revamp of the NCW at the first meeting of Group of Ministers (GoM) under the then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh which was constituted in the wake of the #MeToo campaign to revisit laws related to sexual harassment at workplace.
The GoM was resolved and reconstituted under Home Minister Amit Shah after the formation of the new government at the Centre.
In the GoM meeting, Gandhi had said that amendments were required in the NCW Act as the Commission, in its present form, had not been able to play the desired role. Another official in favour of amendment then told media,
The panel gets all kinds of complaints from women, from inaction in rape cases to denial of maternity benefits. But other than hearing the cases and recommending action by concerned officials, the commission does not have power to do anything more.
And therefore the need was felt to redefine its mandate but that idea looks buried now.
As reported by media, the WCD Ministry under Gandhi – had in 2014 and 2015 – proposed that the NCW be given powers of a civil court to arrest a person if he fails to appear before it.
The changes it had proposed would have the Commission to conduct judicial proceedings and issue warrants, however, the Law Ministry had objected to the proposal.
One must note that Maneka Gandhi’s views, about paternity leave, were also extremely derogatory towards fathers. In 2016, after the passage of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Rajya Sabha, Gandhi quoted,
Men will use paternity leave like a holiday.
- Rejecting such powers to NCW was absolutely the right approach by Modi government
- We have multiple courts and laws already in place, which are completely in favour of women
- Empowering yet another forum (NCW) with criminal court powers would have only meant, more legal pressure on Men & their families, just on mere complaint by wife
- Secondly, are officials at NCW on par with our IPS officers? How can they be given powers to call for arrest?
- Its time Modi government removes all such biased forums and rebuilds on a family welfare commission, which will look at both sides from husband and wife in an unbiased manner, and counsel both parties to find a solution in the best interest, instead of penalising only the Men
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