New Delhi, Sept. 2: The National Commission for Women has acted on less than a fourth of the cases registered with it since 2007 and been able to close less than one in eight.
Answering a question in Parliament last month, women and child development minister Krishna Tirath said the commission had received 86,364 complaints in the past five years but acted on only around 20,000.
“So far, around 20,000 cases have been acted upon, of which 10,083 cases have been closed by the commission. The commission is dealing with the backlog on priority,” Tirath told the Rajya Sabha.
The cases ranged from domestic violence, dowry harassment, torture, desertion, bigamy, rape, refusal to register FIRs, cruelty by husband and deprivation to gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace.
Sources say the backlog is primarily a result of a severe staff shortage. The commission anyway deals with complaints through a long-drawn procedure.
Under the National Commission for Women Act, commission members are required to visit jails at least once a month but haven’t been doing so, a critical audit report said in 2010.
“Once a complaint is lodged, we take it up with the police and try to speed up the investigation. We also monitor the investigation and are responsible for getting the matter noticed by the authorities,” a commission source said.
“In case of family disputes, we counsel those involved and try to resolve the problem through compromise, which is time-consuming. In case of serious crimes, we have to constitute committees that visit the spot and work in tandem with NGOs. This too takes time and needs manpower.”
Commission data show that the highest number of complaints come from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
“It’s not fair to just blame the commission. The reasons for the backlog include delays caused by the requirement for detailed investigation, multiple hearings or counselling sessions and delayed submission of action-taken reports by the authorities,” an official said.
He added that the NGOs working with the commission often contribute to the delay.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau report, there has been a steady increase in crimes against women between 2007 and 2011, the sharpest spike coming between 2010 and 2011.
Bengal and Andhra Pradesh reported the highest rates of crimes committed against women as a percentage of total crimes.