A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar last week asked the Secretary of Women and Child Welfare Department to personally file an affidavit by March 14 explaining the stand of the government on the issue.
Such 'protection officers' are expected to help women subjected to domestic violence, bring about settlement between victims and family members, assist courts to hold trial, help in giving shelter to victims if necessary and also to help in securing custody of children to mothers in such cases.
The PIL, filed by Rajendra Andhule, social worker from Pune, argued that there should be at least one officer in each police station area and at least one in every JMFC court.
The state, however, has not yet appointed such officers. Even the High Court, while hearing a petition in 2008-2009, had ordered the state to appoint such officers but no steps had been taken in this regard, the PIL said.
The PIL alleged that instead of appointing full time 'protection officers' the state had delegated this task to revenue officers.
This was unfair because the very purpose of the Domestic Violence Act was defeated. Revenue officers are already overburdened with their own work and to impose further responsibility of conducting themselves as 'protection officers' was not proper on the part of the state, the PIL contended.