Ranchi, Sept. 16: In a state shamed by rapes, domestic violence and witch-hunts, the women’s commission neither has members nor a chairperson at present.
Jharkhand State Women’s Commission, which in its website somewhat grandiosely calls itself an “authoritative yet sympathetic forum” for women, became a headless outfit on September 6 when its reasonably high-profile chairperson Hemlata S. Mohan completed her three-year tenure.
Two members, Anuradha Choudhary and Vasavi Kiro, completed their three-year stints on August 22. Though norms say it should ideally have four members and a chairperson, only two members — Choudhary and Kiro — as well as Mohan were on board, true to Jharkhand’s tradition of understaffed panels.
At present, there is no one save the odd Grade IV staffer to register complaints.
The state social welfare department is supposed to cherry-pick a list of fresh names and table its recommendations before the chief minister, who will take the final decision.
Social welfare minister Annapurna Devi claimed the process had started. “Within a week or two, we will take a decision to finalise names. We have got 15 to 20 applications from prospective candidates. The list is long and I have not sent my recommendations to the chief minister (Hemant Soren),” she said. Going by Jharkhand Standard Time, it can’t be said for certain when members will be on board.
Sources said political pressure is mounting on the coalition government from different quarters about finding suitable candidates as chairperson and members.
Former member Choudhary agreed work was affected. “Right now, in the absence of authorised members, Grade IV staffers are managing the show. They are registering complaints that are piling up,” she said, adding during her tenure, she disposed of 180 of 300 cases.
“In Jharkhand, abuse relates to dowry pressure, domestic violence, rape, witch-hunt and bigamy,” she said.
The Telegraph, which dialled (0651) 2401849 and 2401911 to check if anyone at the commission was at least taking distress calls, found phones kept on ringing.
In 2012, the number of cases registered with the panel was 535 of which 263 were resolved. Since the commission came into being in 2006, 2,580 have been registered. Former members claimed half the cases were resolved.