With women empowerment high on its agenda, the NDA government has kick-started the process to frame the country’s first comprehensive charter on women’s entitlement, reinforcing their rights in line with the provisions in the Constitution and existing statutes.
The charter, for instance, would spell out not only the fundamental rights of women but specifics such as entitlements of divorced, unmarried and single women, redressal for violations under various statutes, etc. There are laws to address violence against women but currently they are covered under different Acts and sections of the law.
“It is about time that we have a comprehensive policy on women’s entitlement. I have already met law minister Sadanand Gowda to discuss the charter. We are now drafting the policy based on law ministry’s inputs. Once it gets approved by the Cabinet, we will also push for a legislation covering different kind of women’s rights. More often than not, women here are not aware of their rights under law,” women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi told HT.
Legal experts, however, are skeptical about the efficacy of such a charter. “Ground realities are almost always packed against women who still struggle to get their rights. The charter should not end up limiting their rights. It can be the base to be acted upon but I am not sure how effective it would be legally. No charter can be a redressal for violations. For that one will have to go to individual statute, the original parent act,” said senior advocate Rebecca John.
It is not the first time that a charter on women’s entitlement is being talked about. The Justice JS Verma commission, set up in 2012 following the Delhi gangrape case to review possible amendments of the criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals in rape cases, had in its report also recommended implementing a “bill of rights” specifying the rights guaranteed to women under the Constitution. It, however, never got implemented.
Recently, Delhi became the first city-state to draft the Charter of Women’s Rights Bill, 2015, to ensure that women’s fundamental rights get enforced.