Delhi HC seeks govt reply over management of women’s helpline
The PIL further stated that the new software addressed all the issues faced by employees of the helpline. Besides, an alarm system was created for emergency cases.
The Delhi high court has sought response of the Delhi government on a plea, which had challenged the privatisation and transfer of the software operations and management of 181, a women safety helpline.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice AJ Bhambhani also issued notices to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the private firm seeking to know their stand by August 28. The court was hearing a plea filed by a bunch of people who said they had availed the benefits of the helpline that was started on December 30, 2012, soon after a young paramedic student was gang-raped inside a moving bus in 2012.
The plea, filed through advocate Anindita Pujari, contended that the transfer of the helpline amounts to a breach of trust reposed by the aggrieved women who called a state-sponsored helpline for assistance as it maintains records of all information received regarding incidents of violence against women and children.
According to the plea, the Delhi government had, in 2013, asked the private company to develop the software for the helpline. However, since the software developed was incapable of fulfilling the entire mandate of the helpline, the Indraprastha Institute of Information and Technology (IIIT), Delhi, agreed to develop a new system free of cost.
The PIL further stated that the new software addressed all the issues faced by employees of the helpline. Besides, an alarm system was created for emergency cases. However, this new software, along with the operations and management, was transferred to the private entity on March 23. It said that even the office, which was earlier operational from the Delhi Secretariat, was shifted to Naraina.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Mohan V Katarki submitted that records of sensitive information is maintained by the helpline and such information regarding incidents of violence against women and children cannot be transferred by the state to a private entity.
“The state cannot outsource the discharge of its socio-legal function to a private entity. Running the 181 Helpline is in aid of such function and hence cannot be outsourced,” the plea said.