In a bid to review, strengthen and bring in more accountability and clarity in the Domestic Violence Act 2005 in Maharashtra, the state home department has decided to draw up a handbook that will direct protection officers (POs), police and the administration on how to tackle such cases and will specify their reporting formats.
The handbook will be drawn up by February 20 and, along with 10 relevant case studies, will be put online on an interactive website to be designed by the women and child welfare department.
A study conducted by the Lawyers Collective and Women’s Rights Initiative in collaboration with the International Centre for Research on Women in 16 states revealed that Maharashtra registered 2,433 cases, which is the highest in the country, for domestic violence in 2010-11.
A committee has been formed to review the act and is headed by additional chief secretary (home) Amitabh Rajan. It comprises principal secretary (home) Medha Gadgil, women and child welfare secretary Ujwal Uke, police commissioner Satyapal Singh, and TISS representatives.
“The first thing to do is bring in accountability in the structure and form committees at district levels to study cases and give monthly reports. We are inviting the central government secretary for social justice and empowerment for their views on how the act can be improved,” said a senior government official.
In Maharashtra, protection officers should act as channels between the victim of domestic violence and magistrate and police but end up working out compromises between the victim and the family. Most officials were revenue officials from women and child welfare departments doubling up as POs.
This is being fixed by recruiting 37 district POs and training them.