New Delhi, December 8: Ahead of the first meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) for reviewing the law against sexual harassment at workplace, Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi has pitched for more powers for the National Commission for Women (NCW).
Gandhi wants the NCW to have power akin to the civil courts as it would help the body to address all complaints that come to it. The focus of the meeting would be to strengthen the women’s commission, the minister added.
“The idea is to establish infrastructure which can handle these cases. We aim to provide the same powers to NCW as the National Human Rights Commission or the SC/ST commission akin to a civil court. If we can make it stronger, NCW is good enough to take care of all complaints that come to it,” Gandhi said.
At a law review consultation of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 held in November, the NCW had said there was no specified authority to inquire and inspect the proper implementation of the act.
The Centre in October had constituted the GoM — headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh — in a bid to examine the existing legal and institutional frameworks for dealing with matters of sexual harassment of women at workplace. It came in the wake of the ‘MeToo India’ movement. The GoM includes Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman and Maneka Gandhi. It is expected to examine the existing provisions for the safety of women and recommend further measures required to strengthen and make them more effective, within three months of its constitution.
“As it came right before the polls, everyone was caught up and hence it was not possible to meet before. Strengthening of NCW has been on our agenda for last three years. We had taken it to the cabinet as well, but it didn’t pass and it has been lying in cold storage for three years. Hence, we will use this opportunity to resurrect it and see if we can make the NCW stronger,” said a senior official at the WCD ministry. (HT)