The Delhi government on Tuesday issued directions to the Directorate of Prosecution (DOP) to deploy 33 female prosecutors in the mahila courts within 60 days — a first in the national Capital.(HT FILE PHOTO)
The Delhi government on Tuesday issued directions to the Directorate of Prosecution (DOP) to deploy 33 female prosecutors in the mahila courts within 60 days — a first in the national Capital.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Only 4 women prosecutors at 25 mahila courts, claims complaint

The Delhi government on Tuesday issued directions to the Directorate of Prosecution (DOP) to deploy 33 female prosecutors in the mahila courts within 60 days — a first in the national Capital.
By Sweta Goswami | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON SEP 21, 2018 01:45 AM IST

Delhi’s 25 ‘mahila courts’ have only four women government prosecutors to fight cases on behalf of victims, records with the home department have revealed.

Waking up to the glaring gender gap, the Delhi government on Tuesday issued directions to the Directorate of Prosecution (DOP) to deploy 33 female prosecutors in the mahila courts within 60 days — a first in the national Capital.

A mahila court takes up cases only related to crimes against women and has a woman judge. “These courts have predominantly all-women teams, including female prosecutors. Ideally, only the accused and the lawyers are supposed to be men,” a government official said on the condition of anonymity.

The action came after the government took cognisance of a complaint highlighting that as many as 21 male assistant public prosecutors are posted in these mahila courts despite the availability of 33 female prosecutors in the Directorate of Prosecution (DOP), which comes under the Delhi government.

The complainant, Vijay Kumar, in his letter to the additional chief secretary (home), Manoj Parida, on August 31 also stated that as per the law and the Scheme of Criminal Procedure Code-1973, only female officials are supposed to be involved in cases of crimes against women that come to the city’s mahila courts.

“Sometimes, it is also seen that when a male assistant public prosecutor asks the exact way of molestation from the women victims then due to hesitation or shame, they keep mum, due to which the entire justice delivery systems get affected and it results in acquittal of the case,” read Kumar’s complaint.

On an average, each of the 25 mahila courts in Delhi hear about 40 cases on a daily bases.

These cases range from incidents of dowry, domestic violence, kidnapping and molestation among others.

A note written by the additional secretary (home) this week stated that apart from posting the 33 female prosecutors, if the courts need more representation then the DOP would have to post contract additional public prosecutors from among women appointees.

In 2002, the National Commission for Women also had recommended that more women prosecutors should be appointed so that they could handle all crimes against women. It also stated that 33% of judicial officers of all ranks should be women.

An official in the DOP said the national Capital as 270 criminal courts out of which 25 are reserved as ‘mahila courts’.

“We have about 300 prosecutors in total in the Delhi government out of which only around 60 are women,” the official said on a condition of anonymity.

When asked why mahila courts do not have adequate female public prosecutors, another DOP official said the women lawyers were not willing to be shifted to the ‘mahila courts’.

“The female public prosecutors are reluctant to shift to these courts and we do not know why. But, with the latest order of the home department, now they will have to be posted at mahila courts now,” the official said.

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