National Commission for Women Act, 1990- Detailed Analysis
Author: Ms. Vaishali Malhotra, Kurukshetra University.
As we know, women since ages have been struggling to be recognized as equal as to the men. They have been socially and professionally neglected by society. In every aspect of life women are treated to be as inferior in respect of males in the society which is the matter of concern. From past to present time , field, whether it is in aspect of religion, education, health, property and many other aspects of her personal freedom women, are discriminated in front of man. If we talk about our Indian male dominated Society ,the status of women remained very inferior in Ancient India and as well as in Medieval India also and till exists in the modernized world . That’s why there is a urgent need to have a constitutional machinery that is related to the promotion and protection of women rights. Therefore, National Commission for Women Act ,1990 has been promulgated by Parliament of India to tackle all these sort of problems.
II.National Commission for Women Act, 1990
The National Commission for Women is a statutory body which is established on 31st January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990. The first head of the commission was Jayanti Patnaik. As of 30 November, 2018, Rekha Sharma is the chairperson. The chairperson of National Commission for Women Lalitha Kumaramangalam.
The mandate of this body includes:
1. Reviewing of the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women.
2. Recommendations and remedial legislative measures.
3. Facilitating redressal for grievances.
4. Act as advisory to the Government on all policy matters which affects women.
III. Historical Background
From the ancient time, women playing a very prominent role in Indian society in every field. Our history trace the patriarchal nature of our society which simply resulted into the infringement of basic human rights of women . The conditions of women in Indian society is vulnerable which is the matter of concern. Many commissions have been set for the eradication of these problems. One more Commission has been set up tackle all these problems. Lack of constitutional machinery and growing incidents of women harassment formed the interest of having a National Commission for Women
IV. Scope and Applicability of National Commission for Women Act, 1990
National Commission for Women Act, 1990 applies to whole India except Jammu &Kashmir
V. Objectives of National Commission for women Act, 1990
- National Commission for Women act, 1990 ensure the establishment of National Commission for Women for the protection of women rights.
- Reviewing the constitutional and legal safeguards for the protection of women.
- Taking of the suggestions from the National Commission for Women for their effective implementation.
- Acting as a advisory body to Government regarding Policy matters related to women rights.
VI. Working categories of complaints handled by the National Commission for Women
- Representation of women in indecent manner
- Outraging modesty of women
- Police apathy against women
- Privacy of women and rights thereof
- Reproductive health rights of women
- Right to exercise choice in marriage
- Right to live with dignity (Cruelty, Domestic Violence, Harassment)
- Sex Selective abortion/ Female foeticide/ amniocentesis
- Sexual harassment including sexual harassment at workplace
- Traditional practices derogatory to women rights i.e. Sati pratha, devdasi pratha, witch hunting
- Trafficking/ Prostitution of Women
- Violence Against Women ( Rape, Attempt to Rape, Acid Attack, Sexual Assault)
- Women’s right of custody of children in the event of divorce.
- Cyber Crime against women
- Dowry harassment/dowry death
- Free legal aid for women
- Gender discrimination including equal right to education & work
VII. Complaints not entertained by NCW
The following listed categories of complaints are liable to be summarily dismissed by the National Commission for Women:
- Complaints which are of illegible or vague, anonymous or pseudonymous in nature
- If the matter relates to a civil dispute between the parties such as contractual rights or obligations
- The issue raised related to the service matters doesnot relates to any deprivation of women’s rights
- The issue raised relates to labour/ industrial disputes governed by industrial laws and not related to any deprivation of women’s rights
- Matter is sub -judice in a Court/ Tribunal
- If subject matter is pending before a State Commission
- Matter has already been decided by the Commission .
- Matter which is outside the scope of the National Commission for Women on any other ground such as heinous crimes against women
VIII. Helpline no
IX. Composition of National Commission for Women – Sec 3(2)
The NCW is made up of a chairperson, five members and a member secretary.
- A person ‘committed to the cause of women” is nominated and appointed as Chairperson . It is nominated by Central Government.
- Member secretary is also appointed by the Central Government and he should be either an expert in the field of Management , organization or an officer.
- They are the “persons of ability, integrity and standing who have had experience in law or legislation, trade unionism, management of an industry or organization committed to increasing the employment welfare.
- One member must be from SC / ST.
X.Term of office of service of Chairperson & members
Period not exceeding 3 years
XI.Disqualification – Section 4 (3)
According to Section 4(3) of the act there are following conditions that are responsible for the disqualification of members are as followed:
- Members sentenced of imprisonment
- Absence in Commission 3 times
- Incapable of performing the task
- If he is of unsound mind
- Or any opinion of Central Government
XII. Functions OF National Commission for Women – Section 10
The major functions of the NCW include:
- Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws.
- Present reports to central government on work done towards these safeguards.
- Make recommendations for effective implementation of such safeguards to Union and state governments.
- Review women related to legislations and bring out inadequacies and shortcomings.
- Take up cases of violation of law against women to appropriate authorities.
- Look into complaints and take suo moto action over them.
- Work towards women’s rights.
- Mitigating hardships of women and ensure welfare and relief.
- Funding where there is necessary
- Call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations.
- Responsible for presentation of report.
- Conducts promotional Research
- Engaged in inspection where there is required
- Intervention in legal matters: Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat is an innovative component with its roots in the traditional Nyaya Panchayats. In this there are up to 7500 cases heard until now.
XIII. Powers of National Commission Of for Women
Commission can appoint the committees necessary for dealing with the special issues taken up by it from time to time. It is also It is also empowered to co-opt as members of any such committee the persons from outside the Commission (i.e., those who are not members of the Commission). The co-opted persons can attend the meetings of the committee and take part in its proceedings but without the right to vote. The Commission shall regulate its own procedure and also the procedure of its committees. The Commission, while investigating any matter or inquiring into any complaint, has all the powers of a civil court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:
- Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath
- requiring the discovery and production of any document receiving evidence.
- requiring the discovery and production of any document
- Receiving evidence on affidavits
- Requisitioning any public record from any court or office.
- Issuing summons for the examination of witnesses and documents and
- any other matter which may be prescribed by the Central Government.
- The Central Government should consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting women
XIV. Achievements of National Commission for Women
Following are the achievements which are attained by the National Commission for Women :
- National Commission for Women prepares gender profiles of all states and union territory except Lakshadweep.
- National Commission for Women is proactive in Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats.
- National Commission for Women reviewed when is significant laws including dowry prohibition act , PNDT Act , 1994, IPC 1860.
- National Commission for Women on daily basis conducts unorganized various workshops and consultations for creating awareness about the women rights.
XV..Drawbacks of National Commission for Women
Following are the drawbacks which are to be faced by the National Commission for Women:
- National Commission for Women does not have any legislative power.
- National Commission for Women does not have a power to choose its members.
- In reality, no financial assistance to be provided by the Central Government to the National Commission for Women.
- National Commission for Women does not have a jurisdiction in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
XVI. Scandals faced by the National Commission for Women
In December 2006 and January 2007, National Commission for Women into the minor scandal when the question arises on Section 497 of the Indian penal code, 1860 which held adulterous wives equally prosecutable by their husbands. The National Commission for Women formant to not to punish women for the adultery as in their perspective women could be the victim only not is a offender. Also I have argued on the amendment made in the criminal Procedure Code purview of section 198 to file complaint against Unfaithful husband and prosecute them for their promiscuous behavior. This scandal arises in light because of the “loopholes” in the Indian Penal Code that allowed men to file adultery charges against other men who have engaged in illicit relations but did not allow women to file charges against their husbands.
At the end I would like to conclude my article by saying that national commission for women is literally doing a great job in uplifting the status of women in the society. As it has given the platform to the women to raise their voice against any type of the injustice which is taking place in their day to day life. In our Indian society where most of the time the rights of the women are deprived of in every aspect in this type of society there is an efficient need of such a statutory body for the protection of the rights of women so that the status of women can be raised as the developed country is the one in which there is equal status or respect is given to women in the same way as to the man and there shall be no discrimination against on the part of women and both of them are treated equally.