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NCW's demand for judicial powers is fundamentally flawed and unconstitutional
The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body for women established in 1992 by Government of India under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, as defined in the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.

The NCW today has degenerated into a direction-less political appointee-led feminist watering hole, which chooses to intervene in trivial but high profile cases involving celebrities or high media attention with the sole intention to hog some media limelight and to probably justify its existence.

The body despite several notices has never taken a neutral and balanced opinion on any major gender issue. On the long due issue of scrapping 498a owing to its misuse and replacing it with a gender neutral law, the body has time and again provided only but lip service and has allowed the misuse of 498a to continue unabated. It has also done absolutely nothing to protect the millions of mothers and sisters who are falsely arrested and jailed by the police under this provision.

There are 100s of other instances of how the NCW has trampled righteousness, principle of natural justice and even basic common sense over feminist overtures. However with such a poor track record of maintaining its very basic mandate of upholding natural justice in gender cases its political appointees perhaps to outdo the previous one keep demanding that the status of a civil court with power to punish be conferred on the NCW.

There are no prizes for guessing that in the overwhelming majority of the cases the penalty of NCW's court power or misuse of it will be targeted toward husbands falsely accused by wives in estranged marriages or the latest trend of boyfriends falsely accused of rape and molestation by jilted ex-girlfriends.

Coming to constitutionality of the act of conferring the status of a civil court to the NCW, there is an oft repeated but baseless argument made that the NCW should be conferred the powers of a civil court since the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has them. There is a significant difference in the two bodies which is often ignored.

Human rights is a totally inclusive issue where the rights of all human beings irrespective of gender are protected against abuse and the mandate and powers of NHRC is no different from the mandate and powers of the judicial arm of the government. Whereas in the case of NCW the mandate of the NCW from the "National Commission of Woman Act 1990" itself clarifies that the NCW's primary task is to uphold the legal and social rights of women only and this organization would do everything in its power to look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to:-

i. Deprivation of women's rights;

ii. Non-implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development;

iii. Non-compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships and ensuring welfare and providing relief to women, and take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities

How can a body which is so exclusive, gender biased and picky in its mandate, call for itself to given the powers of a court whose primary objective is inclusivity and neutrality irrespective of gender, cast creed or religion. If the NCW's logic of conferring it with powers of a court to hear specifically women's issues is applied to other similar cases then we would reach a bizarre outcome.

a. Muslims and other religious minorities will be fully justified in demanding the conversions of their welfare bodies into court status to listen to cases specifically of people of their religion.

b. Gays and lesbians will also demand conversion of their welfare bodies into special courts which will have the mandate to adjudicate crimes against gays and lesbians only.

c. Various minority casts who claim discrimination will also be fully justified in demanding civil court powers to their welfare bodies.

In short the judicial system and principles of natural justice would be shattered if an ideologically exclusive body like NCW with a specific mandate to protect women be made to judge a case involving men and women.

Men and their families in any case would never stand a chance to get any justice from a court, whose mandate is to protect women at all costs. It would akin to a Jew standing trail in a Nazi court and expecting justice to be done with him by the Nazi judge.

To conclude, the NCW must leave judicial powers with the judicial arm of the government as there are enough courts to adjudicate matters pertaining to women. The NCW must grasp the fact that its own biased gender exclusive mandate prevents it from being conferred the rights if a gender neutral court.

The NCW and its political appointees should instead work to steer the organization from the current clueless feminist watering hole status toward a gender inclusive organisation working for the real upliftment of Indian women and families.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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