“This article is written by Jeffy Johnson, from School of Law, CHRIST (Deemed to be University). This is an exhaustive article regarding working, functions and composition of NCW.
The main intention for the establishment of the National Commission for Women was to ensure equal livelihood for women by making constitutional amendments and laws that favour them. The commission was formed to prevent any kind of violence or exploitation against women. Women are vulnerable and the problems faced by them are numerous and such a commission was established to resolve such issues concerning their rights. It is the state necessity to set up such commissions to address the grievances of women in the country. Keeping in mind the interest of all the National Commission for Women Bill 1990 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
National Commission for Women
The National Commission for Women was formed in 1992 under the National Commission Act 1990. It is a commission having the authority to review constitutional safeguards for women in the country. The main recommendation of the commission is to facilitate redressal mechanisms and also to take legislative measures to curb the disparity. It provides the government with advice to make policies and laws that are more prone to protect and safeguard the rights of women. The commission also has the powers that are vested upon with a civil court. On 31st January 1992, the first commission was constituted and was chaired by Jayanti Patnaik. The first male member in the NCW ( National Commission for women) was Alok Rawat IAS.
The Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) made suggestions 20 years ago. The CSWI qualified the vital for working to make a platform for grievances redressal. It increases the growth in the social-economic sphere of women development. After this, the Successive Commission ( National Perspective Plan for women) in 1988-2000 made certain recommendations for the formulation of the authoritative apex entity for governing the rights of women. In the advent of 1990, the Central Government in consultation with non-governmental organisations formulated and made the structure, powers and working of the commission as the proposal was formed. In May this year, the Bill came before the Lok Sabha. In July, the Ministry of HRD formed the national level conference to discuss the pointers made in the Bill which were introduced. In August the government made a lot of amendments after the discussion and made new provisions on the commission. By this, the commission functioned like a civil court.
The Bill was passed and received the assent of the President on 30th August 1990. The 1st Commission was formed on 31st January 1992 presided by Mrs Jayanti Patnaik as the Chair-person. The 2nd Commission was in July 1995 headed by Dr Mohini Giri. The 3rd Commission was in January 1999 and was under Mrs Vibha Prathasarathy. The 4th and the 5th Commissions was presided by Dr Poornima Advani in 2002 January and Dr Girija Vyas in 2005 respectively. This was followed by a chain of successful meetings and emancipation on the rights of women.
Report of the Commission
It presents the annual report before the Central Government. Apart from this, it submits other reports which it deems to be fit. All such reports are placed before the House of the Parliament along with the memo. In case any recommendation made on the floor of the house is not accepted. The reason for the non-acceptance should be maintained in the memorandum. The same procedure should be followed at the state level as well.
Importance of the NCW
Women as an entity neither belong to a minority group nor are they considered a backward class. India from its inception has been a patriarchal society. Therefore women have always been subdued in society thus it became necessary to need certain strategic steps to enhance and improve the condition or status of women under male-dominated society. The Indian Constitution doesn’t contain any provision specifically made to favour women intrinsically. Article 15 (3), Article 21 and Article 14 protect and safeguard women. They are more gender-neutral. The Supreme Court has taken vital measures for protecting the rights of women.
Through various landmark judgments in cases like Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subra Chakraborty ( AIR 1996 SC 922) and thus the Chairman Rly Board v. Chandrima Das (AIR 2000 SC 988). case, where rape was declared a heinous crime, also due to the landmark judgment in Visakha v. the State of Rajasthan, (AIR 1997 SC 3011). These verdicts enshrined the need for recognising the rights of women at large. The courts have tried to reinforce the social conditions of Indian women. But these have hardly sufficed to reinforce the position of women in India. In 1990, recommended the establishment of an apex body for women. The shortage of constitutional machinery, judicial ability and social interest formed the impetus and need for the formation of the National Commission for Women. It’s apparent from the prior mentioned conditions and problems that girls in India, though during a far better position than their ancestors, were handicapped to a broader extent. In the 1990s witnessed the violence and injustice faced by women the Government decided to form the first National Commission for women in 1992.
The notable achievements of the National Commission for women are that they prepared gender profiles. Then they took initiative into the creation of the Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat to take proactive steps regarding the rights of women. They evaluated and reviewed laws concerning Indian Penal Code 1860, Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and so on. To take more effective actions against violations under the National Commission for Women Act 1990. Set up and organise awareness workshops and consultations outlets. The objectives of NCW are as follows:
- To suggest the government regarding policies regarding women,
- A platform to redress the grievances,
- To make recommendations relating to legislation measures,
- To review legal and constitutional safeguards for women.
It acts as a statutory body and takes measures to safeguard and protect women. It works under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990. It derives the vital guidelines from the commission to make recommendations and suggestions to make strategic plans for the wellbeing of women and their rights.
Powers of NCW
- Provide consultation on all major policy matters that affect women.
- Issuing summons for the examination of documents and the witnesses.
- It has the power to make any public record.
- Receiving evidence on affidavits
- Discovery and production of documents
- Summoning and enforcement
The commission consists of a chairperson, a member secretary and five other members. The chairperson of the NCW is nominated by the Central Government. The Central Government also nominates the member secretary. The member secretary should be an expert in the field of management. He or she is an officer or organisation who is a member. The five members nominated by the Central Government should be individuals with ability, standing and integrity. They should have experience in law, legislation, management, women voluntary organisation, economic social development and so on.
The functions of the NCW are challenging and it requires effective implementation. It works with the regulating agency to resolve complaints that are received. This is mainly for Indian women who are abandoned by their husbands in foreign countries. To provide appropriate conciliation, mediation between parties. Networking with NGOs and such organisations that aid in recognising the rights and protect that of women. Provide litigation assistance to distressed women. To make a proper record of a data bank of all cases relating to the rights of women. Make proper reports to furnish to the government regarded its working timely. To constitute an advisory committee panel of advocates and NGOs to support women. And at the same time a panel of experts to address the aggrieved women. Finally to make training modules and make awareness among the people.
The functions of the National Commission for women are as follows:
- Presentation of reports: Table reports should be submitted to the Central Government every year. When the commission feels it’s appropriate. The reports upon the functioning and working of the safeguards.
- Investigation and Examination: There should be proper investigation and examination made under the Constitution and other laws. This is related to the protection of the rights of women.
- Review: Constantly all laws are reviewed and scrutinised. And necessary amendments and alterations are made to meet the needs of the current world. This is to meet any break, incapacity or any inadequacies in the legislation.
- Cases of Violation: Ensure there is no violation against women and taking due care of such cases.
- Suo Motu Notice: It takes care of complaints and also suo motu matters about the deprivation of rights of women. Implementation of laws favouring the welfare of women.
- Evaluation: Assessing the development and the progress of the women community under the Center and State level.
- Recommendation: To suggest the wellbeing of women and their rights.
- Special studies and investigation: To understand the limitations in the system and curb it with strategic plans and mechanisms.
- Research: To make research and study to understand the needs of women, healthcare and such related components. This is to make a proper support system to help the women in need.
- Participation in all spheres particularly in planning: Take measure to facilitate economic and social development and improvement of women by recognising their rights.
- Inspection: Inspect the jail, remand home to ensure that the women staying here are not exploited as they are vulnerable.
- Funding and Reporting: Ensure there is a fund for litigation of matters relating to women rights. There should be periodical reports made under the difficulties faced by women daily.
Reforms and suggestion
The Major Issues around the working of the National Commission for ladies are as follows:
- The National Commission for women functions is hooked into the grants offered by the central government. Financial assistance provided to the Commission is extremely less to cater to its needs.
- National Commission for women members are appointed by the government and therefore the commission doesn’t have the power to pick its members.
- The National Commission for women lacks concrete legislative power. It enjoys power only to recommend amendments and submit reports.
These suggestions made by the National Commission for Women had no enforceability value over any State or Central Government. It is an entity to take measures if any issue arises. There are numerous unreported cases of violence against women. This case does not come into light due to the fear factor. There is a high requirement for reforms and suggestions to be incorporated in the National Commission for women. Being with more effective rehabilitation for rape survivors and providing them with counselling and relief. Conducting workshops to create awareness among all individuals. To establish equality real sense of empowerment begins at the grassroots level that is from each house in the country the families. Invest more in healthcare and sanitation amenities for women to ensure health and hygiene. Instil proper support system and counselling groups to build and improve the morale of women. This will ensure their wellbeing and also establish self-development centres for the growth and integrity of women. To employ women in small work so that they are independent and ensure that they are not exploited. This will give them a sense of security. Finally educating them about their rights and liberty.
The Commission must be granted the facility of choosing its members. The members should be chosen with no prejudice and will have a good knowledge of the law and understand society and human behaviour. There is a need for an increase of awareness and enlightenment especially required among uneducated women mainly in the rural areas that such a commission exists to address their rights. There should be a good network of individuals employed to reach out and help women who are vulnerable and prone to exploitation. The National Commission for women works efficiently in India because there is not full proof it still needs improvement. The framework is done by the implementation is questionable. Only through joint efforts all and creating awareness can we bridge this gap.