The NHRC has put itself on “high alert” mode after Hyderabad’s brutal rape case rocked the nation. The Commission has issued notices to the Centre and all States and Union Territories on December 2, seeking reports on SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to deal with cases of sexual assault, to be submitted within 6 weeks. The Commission has also asked for status reports on utilisation of the Nirbhaya fund in the last 3 years and details of availability of money in the fund.
The Nirbhaya fund which is administered by Ministry of Finance is a fund that can be utilised for projects of women safety and security. Any policies related to safety of women formulated by any State or UT can receive funding from the Nirbhaya fund after necessary approvals. It has a corpus of Rs. 10 billion.
The Commission noted in its statement, “The largest democracy of the world, which has adopted the longest written constitution and has a rich cultural heritage of gender equality, is today being criticised for having the most unsafe environment for women…“The incidents of rapes, molestation, gender based discrimination and other such atrocities against women have, unfortunately, become routine media headlines.”
The Commission also issued notices to Director-Generals of Police asking them about the best practices adopted to deal with cases of sexual abuse and details of the action taken against the police officers found insensitive and guilty of negligence. The Commission also went ahead and called for a detailed report from Ministry of Womenand child development for details on schemes or guidelines initiated and more importantly, the status of the implementation of the same.
Nirbhaya Fund utilization data
Data released by the Parliament recentlyrevealed that Maharashtra is the only State, among the large states, which has not used the Nirbhaya fund at all. Among the 12 states which were granted funds for the Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme, only 4 states utilised the fund.
This clearly shows that there has been no monitoring at the Centre’s end for implementation of these schemes and the States couldn’t care less for using this special fund for building a better, safer ecosystem for women.
Delhi High Court directions
The Delhi High Court has been monitoring policing in the State since after the Nirbhaya case of 2012. The Bench of Justices AnupJairamBhambhani and GS Sistani took cognisance of the current situation and issued certain directions to the government as well as the Delhi police. The court has ordered police to deploy the cops at several vulnerable spots in the city and if possible to consider deploying women cops in plain clothes. The Court asked the central government, to look into augmenting manpower in Delhi Police in view of long duty hours and workload on the cops. The Court also asked the Delhi chief secretary to finds ways to utilise the vast sums of money accumulated in the Nirbhaya fund.
If cases like these are requisite to wake the authorities, the administration and the executive from their slumber then it speaks volumes about the kind of system we have built for women’s and children’s safety in the country and one can only be dismayed that such a crucial issue has become last priority for our government.
NHRC issues notice to Centre, states seeking reports on procedures to tackle sexual assault cases
Delhi High Court spells out measures to ensure safety of women and children in the capital
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