National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar on Tuesday said the NCW is a toothless body that needed more powers.
She said this while replying to a query put forth by HT during a workshop organised by the Press Information Bureau on the topic, 'Media Reporting on Women and Children'. She said, "When I joined the commission, I was up for the task of chewing without teeth." Prabhavalkar is a lawyer and a former mayor of Mumbai.
The NCW member was of the view that though the commission needed more powers, it didn't need judicial powers. Prabhavalkar said the major issue being faced by the commission is that in a majority of cases the action taken report by police submitted before the commission suggested that they found no merit in the complaint. "We have sent a recommendation to the government for approval that any police official saying that there was no merit in the case should do so under oath."
Prabhavalkar said the commission had finalised six recommendations and sent them to the government for approval. She said the major issue being faced by the commission is that those involved in the case did not turn up for hearings. "We have recommended that attendance be made compulsory and those not turning up be fined and imposed penalty by the magistrate court." She said the commission had also asked the government to increase the strength to nine members, which at present was six.
The member said the remarks made by some commission members on the victims in a few cases in the past had been outrageous and they also needed to be gender-sensitised. "It is sad that members of the commission have made remarks against the victims and it is a cause for concern. Even the members need to be gender-sensitised, as sometimes they tend to make casual comments," said Prabhavalkar.
Also present on the workshop was Manoj Gupta from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. In his presentation, he gave details about the rights given to children in the UN convention. He said these rights needed to be protected by the government as well as public. Any violation of child rights could be suo motu taken note of by the commission and redressal measures could to be taken, he said.
He appealed to the media to be thoroughly aware of the children's rights so that the public is also appropriately informed and their reporting also remains sound from legal perspective.