The National Commission for Women (NCW) is in the spotlight once again as all eyes are set on the decision the panel will take against Bollywood actor Salman Khan for his ‘rape’ remark.
Khan was summoned by the commission to appear before it on July 8 for his remark that the gruelling workout for his new movie Sultan left him feeling like a “raped woman”.
Sources in the women’s panel said they were not very hopeful that Khan would respond to its summon. The NCW chief is already taking legal opinion about the options available before it.
Under the existing National Commission for Women Act, there is not much the women’s panel can do. It neither has the power to arrest nor penalise a person who does not turn up after being summoned. “In some cases, NCW can lodge a police complaint against the person if he has committed a criminal offence. But in this case, no criminal offence has been committed,” said an official.
Almost two years after the women and child development ministry proposed to amend the NCW Act and give it more teeth, it is yet to be approved by the Union cabinet.
The NDA government, instead, ended up diluting some of the key amendments proposed by the ministry. The draft bill was referred to an inter-ministerial panel that dropped key provisions, including allowing NCW officials or any other gazetted officer to enter any building/place and seize documents related to the subject matter of the inquiry and power to arrest a person who fails to turn up after being summoned.
The panel just agreed to retain the provision to allow NCW to impose a penalty of up to Rs 5,000 if a person fails to turn up after being summoned.
“But till the amendments are approved, NCW will have to go by the existing provisions in the Act as per which it does not have the power to even penalise,” the official added.