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 Govt. 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
THE MANDATE OF THE COMMISSION: SECTION 10 OF
- Investigate and examine all matters relating
to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws;
- present to the Central Government, annually
and at such other items as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the
working of those safeguards;
- make in such reports recommendations for the
effective implementation of those safeguards for improving the conditions of
women by the Union of any State;
- 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 legislative measures to meet
any lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations;
- take up cases of violation of the provisions
of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate
- look into complaints and take suo moto
notice of matters relating to :-
- deprivation of women's rights;
- non-implementation of laws enacted to
provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of
equality and development;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- participate and advise on the planning
process of socio-economic development of women;
- evaluate the progress of the development of
women under the Union and any State;
- 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;
- fund legislation involving issues affecting
a large body of women;
- make periodical reports to the Government on
any matter pertaining to women and in particular various difficulties under
which women toil;
- any other matter which may be referred to it
by Central Government;
- the Central Government shall cause all the
reports referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (1) to be laid before each
House of Parliament along with a memorandum explaining the action taken or
proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to the Union and the
reasons for the non-acceptance, if any, of any of such recommendations.
- Where any such report or any part thereof
relates to any matter with which any State Government is concerned, the
Commission shall forward a copy of such report or part to such 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:-
- summoning and enforcing the attendance
of any person room any part of India and examining him on oath;
- requiring the discovery and production
of any document;
- receiving evidence on affidavits;
- requisitioning any public record or copy
thereof from any court or office;
- issuing commissions for the examination
of witnesses and documents; and
- any other matter which may be
COMPLAINTS AND COUNSELLING UNIT
This cell is the " Core" unit of
the commission and processes 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, refusal to
register FIR, cruelty by husband, derivation, gender discrimination and
sexual harassment at work place. During 1999, the Commission received 4329
complaints related to the above types of crimes against women.
The complaints are tackled as below:-
Investigations by the police are expedited
Disaggregated data are made available to various state authorities to
Family disputes are resolved or compromised through counselling.
As per the 1997 Supreme Court Judgement on
Sexual Harassment at Workplace, (Vishakha Vs. State of Rajasthan) 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
Between July to December, 1999, the Commission received the following
complaints :- Dowry Death-232, Rape-93, Murder-69, Harassment-591, Property
disputes-132, Desertion-66, Kidnapping-36.
This gives the trend of crimes against women and suggests systemic changes
needed for the reduction in crimes.
The complaints are analysed to understand the gaps in routine functioning of
government in tackling violence against women and to suggest correctional
The complaints are also used as case studies for sensitization programmes
for the police, judiciary, prosecutors, forensic scientists, defence lawyers
and other administrative functionaries.
EXPERT COMMITTEES [Section 8(1)]
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.
Women's movement in the country was brought to the fore front by the efforts
of the NGOs. The Commission interacts and networks with the NGOs
and the State Commissions for ensuring gender equality and empowerment of
women. The commission also interacts with the media, social activists and
academicians to suggest the ways of ensuring due representation of women in
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.
SEMINARS, WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES
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.
LEGAL AMENDMENTS/BILLS PROPOSED
- Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
- Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act,
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
- Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
- Indecent Representation of Women
(Prohibition) Act, 1986.
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
(for elimination of child prostitution and devising a comprehensive
package for rehabilitation).
- Medial Termination of Pregnancy Act,
- Family Courts Act, 1984.
- Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
- Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.
- Indian Succession Act, 1925.
- Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- The Marriage Bill, 1994.
- The Domestic Violence to Women
(Prevention) bill, 1994.
- The Orphan & Destitute Children
(Adoption) Bill, 1994.
- The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 1994
(with reference to child rape).
- The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Ordinance,
- The Prevention of Barbarous and Beastly
cruelty against Women Bill, 1995.
- The Constitution 81st
Amendment Bill, 1996.
Important Court Interventions
The National Commission for Women can and it has intervened in some
important court matters.
- Bhateri gang rape case (Rajasthan):- The
Commission suo- moto took up the case of M. Bhanwari Devi and extended
its full support in going for appeal and also providing security to the
victim and appointment of a special public prosecutor to argue her case.
- Capital Punishment / Death Penalty (Ramshree's
case) : Due to the timely intervention of the National Commission for
Women in the Supreme Court, the order of the death sentence was
temporarily stayed and the Hon'ble Court, later on commuted the death
sentence into life imprisonment.
- Obscenity cases:-
- The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi put
an injection on the launching of +21 adult channel by the Ministry
of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India.
- The NCW had moved the Hon'ble High
Court of Delhi against Star TV, Zee TV, etc. for showing obscene
pictures on television and other media.
- Against out dated customs &
traditions : Maimon Baskari's Nuh (Haryana) case:
The NCW took up the case of Ms. Maimon Baskari who was allegedly a
victim of torture and rape for marrying a person of her choice. The
Supreme Court has united the couple.
- Divorced Muslim Women's Entitlement to
Maintenance beyond the lddat period: In the matter of Fakhruddin Mubarak
Shaik Vs. Jaitunbi Mubarak Shaik, the NCW has intervened in the Supreme
Court of India to support the stand of Jaitunbi. The case is pending.
PARIVARIK MAHILA LOK ADALAT (PMLA); An
Alternative Justice Delivery System
The National Commission for women has evolved an innovative concept of PMLA
for redressal and speedy disposal of cases under Legal Service Authority
Act, 1987, which has its roots in the traditional Nyaya Panchayats. The
essential features of PMLA are amicable mutual settlement and flexibility in
functioning. The NGOs in association with District Legal Aid and Advisory
Boards, activists, advocates and others, organise Parivarik Mahila Lok
Adalats with the Commission's financial assistance. So far, 130 PLMAs have
been held in which about 7500 cases were taken up.
- Conference on "Women and Panchayati
Raj " New Delhi-October, 1993.
- Workshop of Infant Feeding practices and
the law-New Delhi, 1994.
- Public Enquiry on Crime Against Women-
New Delhi, 1995.
- Mangalam Project Pondicherry -1995;
Justice Delivery by Women for Women.
- Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat (PMLA) at
- Daughters of Darkness - No Child
- Silver Lining - a documentary on Mental
Health of Women - 1998.
- "Tomorrow is ours "
on-mandate, functions & work of NCW.
- Making of a leader -Political
empowerment of Women.
- Organised mass rally in association with
the Indian Medical Association and UNICEF to generate awareness against
the practice of Female Feticide.
- Surveyed and assessed the disaster of
super cyclone in Orissa. Collected and distributed about ten truck
loads of useful relief material such as clothes, blankets, utensils,
medicines and non-perishable items. Initiated follow up programme
with the NGOs.
- Collaborated with the Guild of Service,
New Delhi to mobilise a nationwide millennium campaign for women called
PEACE, i.e. Peace for empowerment and Call for Equity.
- Intensified lobbying to expedite the
passage of the Women's Reservation Bill pending in Parliament.
- The commission's teams visited different
parts of the country and enquired into specific incidents e.g. sexual
harassment compliant at DPS, Faridabad, incest case at Karvi (UP),
Anjana Misra rape case (Orissa), alleged act of glorification of
"Sati" at Mohaba (UP), Lalita Oraon case (Ranchi) concerning
alleged sexual assault on
LEGAL AWARENESS PROGRAMME
The National Commission for Women regularly
extends financial support to NGOs and educational institutions to conduct
Legal Awareness Programmes to enable women and girls to know their legal
rights, to understand the procedure and method of access to the legal
systems. So far 55 Legal Awareness Programmes have been conducted.
MANGLAM: A successful example of
NCWs legal awareness programme on the home of " justice delivery by
women for women " in Pondicherry.
RESEARCH STUDIES SPONSORED: Social
mobilisation, maintenance and divorcee women, panchayat raj in action, women
labour under contract, gender bias in judicial decisions, family courts,
gender-component in the various Commissions' reports for women, violence
against women, women access to health and education in slums etc. to help in
formulation of NCWs policies for recommendations.
LIBRARY AND PUBLICATIONS
The commission's library has now become a
resource centre for research scholars/ activists. There are about 2250 books
in the library. It subscribes 25 daily newspapers in different languages and
35 periodicals/ professional journals. The Library has a regular system of
documenting newspaper clippings on women's issues.
The Commission regularly brings out a
monthly newsletter "Rashtra Mahila " in Hindi and English.
Impact of Maintenance Laws with special
reference to Kerala state.
The Role of Women Members in Panchayati Raj -experience in West Bengal.
Gender Component in various commissions, Report by, NLSU Bangalore.
Women Prisoners in Indian Jails.
Development of Health facilities among Scheduled Tribe Women.
Report on National Debate on codification of Criminal Laws Pertaining to
Justice Delivery through Family Courts.
The Gender Issues and Books in India.
Reaching Out - Proceedings of conferences and seminars July, 1996.
The Velvet Blouse : Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Knocking at the male bastion -women in politics.
NCW's Review of Laws : Amendments and New Bills.
For Women to lead ... Ideas and Experiences from Asia.
Report on Tribal Women & Employment.
Code of conduct on Sexual Harassment.
Manual of Mental Health Care for women in Custody.
A Study of mentally Disabled Women.
Project Mangalam - Justice Delivery by Women for Women.
- a 19 year old maid by an Indian diplomat
in Paris, Chitra rape case (chennai)
and brutal atorcities against harijan women at Sanhauli (Bihar).
- Organised nationwide workshops on
Amendment to Rape Laws.
Held Public Hearings on Minority women at Tezpur, Bangalore, Indore,
Ahmedabad, Panipat and Bhadrak, on Women Sarpanches at Ajmer and women
in Agriculture at Dharwad (Karnataka).
- Organised conference or Tribal Women's
- Sponsored Research / studies on Dayin
Pratha (Bihar), Women prisoners (U.P., M.P., Rajasthan, Orissa),
Nutrition and Health Care of Adolescent Girls (Orissa), Impact of Mining
on Health of Women (Orissa), Women of weaker sections in hill areas (U.P.)
- Interaction with women Parliamentarians
- Organised training programme for
counsellors from various states in collaboration with the British
- Conducted Workshops on Penal reform in
association with PRI & PRAJA and Crime Against Women in India with
- Organised a programme in Eluru (A.P.)
and Gadhinglaj (Maharahstra) for rehabilitation of Devadasis and women
prone to trafficking.
- conducted assessment on the condition of
Vrindavan widows and made recommendations.
- Held a series of Workshops on the
condition of women in agriculture.
PROGRAMMES FOR 2000
- The National Commission for Women has
initiated an ambitious programme entitled "Preparing the Women for
Tomorrow " -with awareness campaigns on laws and legality, media,
nutrition and health, consumerism, human rights, sex and sexuality and
programmes to build capacity for management of time, interpersonal
relationships, emotions and develop skill for communication, thinking,
negotiations and problem solving.
- Regional meets with State Commission for
Women and NGOs.
- Seminar on "Empowering Women for
Sustained Development Forging Partnership Urban Local Bodies and
- Workshop on gender justice - Forging
Partnership with Law Enforcing Agencies.
- A study on systematic change in custody
with mentally ill people-West Bengal.
- District wise Socio Economic Gender
Disaggregated Data Analysis and district mapping Maharashtra.
- Campaign against sexual harassment at
work place -West Bengal.
- Nation wide workshops on Amendment to
Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act 1956.
- Follow up action on India First Report
on implementation of CEDAW (UN Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women)
- Voice of the Voiceless-status of Muslim
Women in India (a report).
- Rape: A legal study (a report).