The National Commission for Women was set up as a statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 (Act No. 20 of 1990) of Government of India, to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women; recommend remedial legislative measures, facilitate redressal of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
The Mandate of the Commission is as follows:
a. Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws;
b. present to the Central Government, annually and at such other items as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;
c. make in such reports recommendations for the effective implementation of those safeguards for improving the conditions of women by the Union of any State;
d. review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the Constitution and other laws affecting women and recommend amendments thereto so as to suggest remedial legislate measures to meet any lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations;
e. take up cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities;
f. look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to:
i. deprivation of women`s rights;
ii. Non-implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development
iii. Non-compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships and ensuring welfare and providing relief to women, and take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities
g. call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal;
h. undertake promotional and educational research so as to suggest ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and identify factors responsible for impending their advancement, such as, lack of access to housing and basic services, inadequate support services and technologies for reducing drudgery and occupational health hazards and for increasing their productivity
i. participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of women;
j. evaluate the progress of the development of women under the Union and any State;
k. inspect or cause to be inspected a jail, remand home women`s institution or other place of custody where women are kept as prisoners or otherwise, and take up with the concerned authorities for remedial action, if found necessary;
l. fund legislation involving issues affecting a large body of women;
m. make periodical reports to the Government on any matter pertaining to women and in particular various difficulties under which women toil;
n. any other matter which may be referred to it by Central Government;
State Government who shall cause it to be laid before the Legislature of the State along with a memorandum explaining the action taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to the State and the reasons for the non-acceptance, if any, of any of such recommendations.
The Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred to in clause (a) or sub-clause(I) of clause(f) of sub-section (1), have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit and, in particular in respect of the following matters, namely:
a. summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person room any part of India and examining him on oath;
b. requiring the discovery and production of any document;
c. receiving evidence on affidavits;
d. requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office
e. issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents; and
f. any other matter which may be prescribed
Complaints and Counselling Unit for the National Commission for Women:
This cell is the "Core" unit of the commission and processes the complaints received oral, written or suo motu 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, derivation, gender discrimination and sexual harassment at work place.
The complaints are tackled as below:-
As per the 1997 Supreme Court Judgement on Sexual Harassment at Workplace, (Vishakha vs. State ofRajasthan) every employer is required to provide for effective complaints procedures and remedies including awarding of compensation to women victims. In sexual harassment complaints, the concerned organisations are urged to expedite cases and the disposal is monitored
For serious crimes, the Commission constitutes an Inquiry Committee which makes spot enquiries, examines various witnesses, collects evidence and submits the report with recommendations. The implementation of the report is monitored by the NCW. The State Commission, the NGOs and other experts are involved in these efforts.
The complaints are analysed to understand the gaps in routine functioning of government in tackling violence against women and to suggest correctional measures.
The complaints are also used as case studies for sensitization programmes for the police, judiciary, prosecutors, forensic scientists, defence lawyers and other administrative functionaries.
The Commission constitutes Expert Committees for dealing with such special issues as may be taken up by the Commission from time to time.
The Expert Committees established so far are for:-
Law and legislation, Political empowerment, Custodial justice for women, Social security, Panchayati Raj, Women and media, Development of Scheduled Tribe Women, Development of women of weaker sections, Development of women of minority communities, Transfer of technology in agriculture for development of women.
The Commission interacts and networks with the NGOs and the State Commissions for ensuring gender equality arid empowerment of women. The Commission also interacts with the media, social activists and academicians to suggest ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres.
The Commission undertakes state visits to evaluate the progress of development of women in various States. It has covered the States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Manipur.
During the visits, discussions are held with the Chief Minister, the Women and Child Development Minister, the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Secretaries of other departments.
The Commission conducts seminars, workshops and conferences and sponsors such events by providing financial assistance to research organisations and NGOs. The important areas so far covered include violence against women, sexual exploitation of women at work place, educational health and employment aspects, women in agriculture sector, women in Panchayati Raj, custodial justice, mental health institutions etc.
The NCW holds public hearings on issues affecting large sections of women such as crime against women, women in unorganised labour sector, women in agriculture and women of minority groups. The deposition at these enquiries helps in appreciating and initiating remedial action.
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