Friday, February 22, 2013

Govt told to appoint more officers to enforce Domestic Violence Act

The Gujarat high court on Friday directed the state government to appoint protection officers in adequate numbers in all districts for effective implementation of Domestic Violence (DV) Act.

The government will have to report back after two months showing the steps it has taken on HC directions. The court will then take up the issue to assess the compliance of court order.

The division bench had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue on basis of a TOI report published on July 5, 2012, highlighting the pathetic condition of the dispensation to help women in distress. The TOI article reflected how the under-staffed office of protection officers in Ahmedabad makes women to wait for three months for their turn to come.

The bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala has asked the government to appoint protection officers and fill up other concerned posts in adequate number. The court notices that number of protection officers is very less in cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Rajkot, where complaints in DV laws are in big numbers. There are only three protection officers - all of them contractual employees - in Ahmedabad, which got nearly 800 complaints last year.

The HC has also asked the government to make permanent appointments instead of filling up posts on contract basis. The court has observed that preference should be given to female candidates for these posts. And the minimum work duration should be kept at three years.

Besides, asking the government to create proper manpower mechanism to redress the issue of domestic violence, the judges have issued express directions to create necessary infrastructure in the district social officer's office. At present, the protection officers have got only a table and chair at various places. Senior counsel Shalin Mehta and advocate Hemang Shah assisted the court in this case.

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