National Commission for Women

The National Commission for Women was formed with an intention to establish an equal and just livelihood for women by making legal and constitutional amendments for women in India. The Violence against Women is a fundamental violation of human rights, across nations, societies, cultures and classes and to stop this violation of the fundamental right; this Commission was formed. 

Problems faced by the women in the country has been one of the biggest concerns of the Government and other authorities. Over the years, many Commissions have been set up by the Government to look into the welfare of Women in the country. According to the reports of these commissions, all of them state the necessity of setting up an apex body for reviewing and addressing the grievances of women in the country. The demand for setting up a body persisted for long and ultimately to keep the interest of the people, the National Commission for Women Bill 1990 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22nd May 1990.

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National Commission for Women

The National Commission for Women was set up in 1992 under the National Commission Act, 1990. This body was established to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women. 

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It recommends the remedial legislative measures, facilitates redressal of grievances and advises the government on all policy matters affecting women. It enjoys all the powers of a civil court.

The first commission was constituted on 31st January 1992 as Jayanti Patnaik as the chairperson. Alok Rawat IAS is the first male member of the National Commission for Women (NCW). His appointment filled the 4th seat on the five-member body. Ms Rekha Sharma is the current Chairperson of the National Commission for Women. She took over Lalitha Kumaramangalam as the new Chairperson in September 2018.

The National Commission for Women is an important topic for candidates preparing for the upcoming UPSC 2020 exam. Aspirants can visit the linked article for more details.

Composition of National Commission for Women

The Commission must consist of a minimum number of members which includes a chairperson, a member secretary, and the other five members.

Chairperson: The central government should nominate the chairperson.

Five members: The five members are also to be nominated by the central government from amongst the person of ability, integrity, and standing. They should possess experience in various fields like law or legislation, trade unionism, management of industry potential of women, women’s voluntary organization, education, administration, economic development, and social good-being.

Member Secretary: The Central Government also nominates member secretary. He/ she should be either an expert in the field of management, an organization, or an officer who is a member.

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Functions of National Commission for Women

  • Inquiry and Investigation

The National Commission of Women enjoys the powers of a civil court. It investigates and examines the matters related to the safeguards ensured for feminine society under the Constitution of India. It took complaints suo moto notice of issues related to the non- implementation of laws and non- enforcement of laws and non -compliance of policy decisions, guidelines enacted and aimed at mitigating hardships ensuring the welfare and then take up issues arising out of matter with the concerned authorities.

  • Action Research

NCW members take part in the planning process of socio-economic development of women, propose measures to encourage their representation in all spheres, and review their advancement. It also examines the safeguards provided for women in the Constitution and other laws study their working, recommend amendments to meet any inadequacies or deficiencies, and advocate measures for effective implementation.

  • Legal Intervention

The Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat, (PMLA) is an innovative component with its roots in the traditional Nyaya Panchayats. It is created by NCW for the redressal and speedy disposal of cases. It has taken up 7500 cases so far. The essential feature of PMLA is cordial mutual settlement and flexibility in implementation, aiming to empower women in the justice delivery mechanism.

The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions:

  1. Investigation and Examination: Investigate and examine all the matters relating to the safeguards provided for the women under the Constitution and other laws
  2. Presentation of Reports: Table reports to the Central Government, every year and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards
  3. Recommendations: Make in such reports and recommendations for the effective accomplishment of those safeguards for enhancing the conditions of the women by the Union or any State.
  4. Review, every now and then, the current provisions of the Constitution and other laws distressing the women and prescribe alterations and suggest curative legislative measures meet any break, inadequacies, and incapacity in such legislation.
  5. Cases of Violation: Take up cases of infringement of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to the women with the relevant authorities
  6. Suo Moto Notice: It looks into complaints, and takes Suo Motto notice of matters relating to – deprivation of women’s rights, Non-implementation of the laws, and Non-compliance of policy decisions guaranteeing the welfare for women society.
  7. Special Studies and Investigation: It conducts special studies or investigation on the concerning issues or circumstances emerging out of segregation and outrages against ladies and recognizes the limitations in order to suggest techniques for their expulsion
  8. Research: Undertake the promotional and educational research so as to propose ways of ensuring due representation of women in all fields and identifies the factors responsible for impeding the support services and technologies for reducing drudgery and professional health hazards and for escalating their efficiency.
  9. Participation in all spheres particularly in Planning: take part and advice on the planning process of socio-economic development of women
  10. Evaluation: assess the progress of the development of women society under the Union and State.
  11. Inspection: investigate or cause to be inspected a jail, remand home women’s establishment or other places of guardianship where ladies are kept as detainees.
  12. Funding: fund litigation, relating issues affecting a large body of women.
  13. Reporting: make periodical reports on any issue pertaining to women and in particular various difficulties under which women toil.

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Drawbacks of National Commission for Women

  • It has no actual legislative powers. It only has the powers to suggest amendments and submit reports which are not obligatory on a state or Union Governments.
  • It does not have the power to choose its own members. The power selecting members is vested with the Union Government and the nature of the country’s volatile political scenario tends the commission to be politicized.
  • It is reliant on financial assistance from the Union Government and this could compromise the independence of the Commission.
  • The jurisdiction of the commission is not operating in Jammu and Kashmir and considering the current political unrest and human rights infringements in the region, the presence of commission is vital.

Complaints and Counseling Unit of National Commission for Women

This cell is the Core unit of the commission and pro members. The power selecting members is vested with the Union Government and the nature of the country’s volatile political scenario tends the commission to be politicized.

The jurisdiction of the commission is not operating cesses the complaints received oral, written, or suo moto under Section 10 of the NCW Act. The complaints received relate to domestic violence, harassment, dowry, torture, desertion, bigamy, rape, and refusal to register FIR, cruelty by husband, deprivation, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment at the workplace. 

The complaints are dealt with and tackled in various ways such as Investigations by the police are expedited and monitored, disaggregated data are made available to various state authorities to facilitate action, family disputes are resolved or compromised through counseling.

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