A bigger and stronger National Commission for Women to ensure implementation of women-related laws and investigation of complaints is in the offing.
As of now, the women rights watchdog has powers of a civil court but cannot investigate complaints or prosecute accused and initiate action against those who refuse to follow NCW orders, thereby rendering it toothless.
This is set to change with Women and Child Development minister Krishna Tirath seeking 24 changes in the NCW Act, 1990, bringing it at par with National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
“Millions of women look up to the institution for day-to-day support. It is very necessary to scale up the institution’s capacity and infrastructure,” Tirath said in a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on February 9. “We need to make NCW vibrant, dynamic body, capable to address women's issues more effectively and intensely.”
The amendment proposed in the NCW Act, once enacted, would change how the commission works. The government also proposes to give NCW power to prosecute a person, against whom evidence of committing a criminal offence against a woman is found. “The amendment will provide succour to women who fail to get justice from existing government institutions,” a ministry official said.
It has also suggested that tenure of the chairperson and members should be for minimum three years. The chairperson would be of the rank of Cabinet Secretary and members of Secretary.
Tirath has sought PM’s approval to appoint Kapila Vatsayan, a Rajya Sabha member, as a head of the committee to consider suggestions to make NCW a “vibrant and a meaningful body”. The ministry also plans to hold a meeting of all former chairpersons and members of NCW and presents members of State Commissions for Women to draw a strategy for making women commissions a powerful body to ensure women emancipation.