Reeling in the aftermath of a spate of rapes being reported in the media, an overburdened National Women's Commission is looking at a complete overhaul.
Four of the five existing vacancies for members will be filled up in a few days time with Mamta Sharma, former Rajasthan Mahila Congress chief, expected to take over the chairpersonship of NCW from acting chief Yashmeen Abrar.
"NCW will have a new chairperson and a four new members soon," a top ministry source told HT.
NCW is the only national level authority having the mandate of protecting the rights of women across the country.
At present, besides Abrar, the Commission has a sole member -- Wansuk Syiem -- in place of the mandated five. The post of joint secretary has also been vacant for quite some time. There is also an urgent need to increase the number of counsellors.
A parliamentary standing committee in the last session has strongly recommended an increase in the number of staff in view of increasing complaints. Appointment of NCW members is a political decision while the appointment of bureaucrats is an administrative one. Both have to be taken by the ministry of women and child development.
Another Congress politician from Rajasthan, Chandresh Kumari, was widely expected to handle the assignment but her candidature fell through when she did not fulfill the eligibility criteria on age. The NCW chairperson cannot exceed 65 years of age.
"There are enquires to conduct, increasing pile of cases, it is proving very difficult to handle the workload," said an official in the Commission.
Abrar, whose term comes to an end on July 15 had taken over from Girija Vyas on April 8, 2011.
Complaints are lodged in the NCW under 33 heads, including dowry death, harassment, police inaction, rape, acid attack and problems related to NRI marriages. According the National Crime Records Bureau, 63,601 cases of rape and 1,17,858 cases of molestation were registered from across the country from 2007 to 2009.
In 2010, NCW got 15,700 complaints, up from 14,233 in 2009. Uttar Pradesh tops the list of states from where the maximum numbers of complaints (27,435) have been received by the NCW since its inception, followed by Delhi (7,452).