Despite the alarming rate of crime against women in Maharashtra, the government has left vacant posts in the State Women’s commission, including that of its chairperson, for the last four years. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been caught fumbling for words trying to justify the delay in appointing the chairperson of MSWC.
Rajani Satav was the last chairperson of the commission who held the post till 2009 and during the same year, the tenure of the other six members of the commission also ended. The state government has not filled the post of chairperson and neither of its members.
“In a state with 5.4 crore females, the state government has not been able to find one capable adult person to fill the chairperson’s post. This is the most deplorable and reflects the state government’s apathy towards issues related to women in the state,” said BJP legislator Devendra Phadnavis. As per the arrangement between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, the post of the MSWC chairperson will be filled by the Congress. However, the posts remained vacant as then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was confounded with several heavyweight aspirants for the post and hence not able to decide on the same.
Besides last Chairperson Satav, who aspire to continue, the other contenders are Congress MP Manikrao Gavit’s daughter Nirmala and advocate Sukhiben Shah. When Chavan took over as the CM in November 2010, he too faced the same predicament and remained indecisive.
Adding to the delay was the fire at Mantralaya in June this year in which the file with the names of the candidates for the chairperson’s post was destroyed. The file has now been reconstructed and sent again to the Chief Minister for his final decision.
However, since the Delhi gangrape incident bringing crime against women in the limelight, Chavan is now keen to expedite the appointment. The commission is working with the help of its member-secretary Shomita Biswas who belongs to the Indian Forest Service (IFS) cadre.
From 2009 to 2011, the Maharashtra Government saw 46,513 cases of crime against women. In 2010, there were 1,599 cases of rape while in 2011, 1,701 rape cases were registered in the state.