Cuttack, May 3: A PIL, filed in Orissa High Court, has alleged inaction in setting up the Mahila and Sishu Desk in the police stations of the state. Acting on it, the court has sought a clarification from the Odisha government.
By a police order, issued on March 15, 2005, it was decided to set up Mahila and Sishu Desk in the first phase to deal with violence against women and children in 40 police stations of the state. The separate wing with a woman officer of the rank of sub-inspector as desk officer was to facilitate integrated approach towards crime against women and children.
The primary role of the desk is to receive all complaints related to women victims and children and listen to their grievances with empathy and ensure legal action.
Secretary of an NGO, Legal Support and Social Action, alleged that “till date the order has not been carried out in letter and spirit”. The PIL has sought direction for implementation of the order in all the 537 police stations of Odisha.
“After a preliminary hearing, the division bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice S.K. Mishra issued notices to the state government last week. Notices were also issued to the home department and the director-general of police,” advocate-petitioner Gadadhar Sahoo said today.
According to the order, the woman officer at the police station designated as desk officer was to be assisted by at least one lady constable. Where no woman officer of the rank of sub-inspector or assistant sub-inspector is available a junior sub-inspector should be designated as desk officer at such desk. In the absence of any woman officer, at least two lady constables should be attached to such desk. The desk shall function under the overall supervision of the officer in charge of the police station.
“In most of the police stations, where the Mahila and Sishu Desks have been set up, desk officers have been appointed only in pen and paper,” the petition states.
“Setting up the Mahila and Sishu Desks in all the police stations is imperative because Odisha is a backward state and most of the people living in rural and remote villages belong to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe who are ignorant of the law and are not getting justice especially under the Criminal Law. Besides, domestic violence is increasing day by day remarkably,” the PIL contends.
In July 2007, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had released a handbook, Legal Compendium for Investigating Officers, on Mahila and Sishu Desk with legislations, executive circulars, notifications, national human rights commission guidelines and international guidelines in relation to women and child.