NEW DELHI: The Union Women and Child Development Ministry has dropped an earlier proposal to give more teeth to the National Commission for Women.
Officials in the ministry told this newspaper that the decision to withdraw a proposal mooted by former WCD minister Maneka Gandhi had been taken on the basis of “practicality.”
“It was felt that asking for more power for NCW will lead to conflict with states and therefore we are not pursuing the proposal anymore,” a senior official said.
Last year, Gandhi had pushed for the revamp of the NCW at the first meeting of Group of Ministers (GoM) under the then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh which was constituted in the wake of the #MeToo campaign to revisit laws related to sexual harassment at workplace.
The GoM has been resolved and reconstituted under Home Minister Amit Shah after the formation of the new government at the Centre.
In the GoM meeting last year, Gandhi had said that amendments were required in the NCW Act as the Commission, in its present form, had not been able to play the desired role.
“The panel gets all kinds of complaints from women, from inaction in rape cases to denial of maternity benefits. But other than hearing the cases and recommending action by concerned officials, the commission does not have power to do anything more,” another official said.
“And therefore the need was felt to redefine its mandate but that idea looks buried now."
Sources said that the WCD Ministry had in 2014 and 2015 proposed that the NCW be given powers of a civil court to arrest a person if he fails to appear before it.
The changes it had proposed would have the Commission to conduct judicial proceedings and issue warrants, however, the Law Ministry had objected to the proposal.