Central Urgent Action Needed: Addressing Domestic Violence in India

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The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to organize a meeting of the principal secretaries from all states to address issues related to the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. The court noted that there are over 4.71 lakh pending cases of domestic violence in the country as of July 2022.

The apex court expressed concern about the appointment of protection officers under the Act, describing the situation as “dismal.” Justices SR Bhat and Dipankar Datta stated that having one officer per district would be insufficient, as each officer would have to handle around 500-600 cases.

During a hearing on Friday, the bench emphasized the need for the Union of India to closely examine this issue. The court also directed the Ministry of Women and Child Development to convene a meeting of principal secretaries from all states and Union territories, as well as representatives from other relevant ministries and commissions.

The first meeting should ideally take place within three weeks, with a status report on the implementation of “Mission Shakti,” a women empowerment program, to be submitted. The Centre was also instructed to provide information on how “Mission Shakti” would support the implementation of the Act.

Following a study conducted by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), which revealed the high number of pending cases, the matter has been scheduled for further hearing in eight weeks. The court had previously directed NALSA to provide details on cases initiated under the Act, and had asked the Centre to submit information on support programs and funding for states.

A plea filed by the organization “We The Women of India” highlighted the need for adequate infrastructure under the Act to provide legal aid and shelter to women facing domestic violence. Despite the law being in place for over 15 years, domestic violence remains a prevalent issue in the country, as indicated by the National Crime Records Bureau report.

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