Bhopal: State Women's Commission in limbo for three years

Body headless due to govt apathy, legal wrangling; nearly 18K cases pending.

SmitaUpdated: Saturday, July 16, 2022, 01:18 AM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Everyday dozens of applications and petitions arrive at the office of the State Commission for Women, through post and email. The administrative staff compile them and file them neatly. This has been happening for the past three years now. Some women who visit the office in person are turned back. And no one knows till when it will continue

The Commission, meant to protect the rights and entitlements of one-half of the population of the state is non-functional since January 2019, when Lata Wankhedeís tenure as the chairperson of the Commission expired. During Wankhedeís tenure, 14,000 cases were disposed of. When she left, around 7,000 cases were pending.†††

Since then, thousands of new cases have been filed, increasing the pendency even further. According to Shiv Kumar Sharma, secretary to the commission, more than 7,000 new cases have been filed since then. ìWe are filing the complaints. What else can we do?î he told the Free Press.††

The Congress, which had come to power in the state in December 2018, did not bother to fill the vacancy caused by Wankhedeís exit for more than a year.

After a gap of almost 15 months, the Kamal Nath Government, on March 16, 2000, appointed Shobha Oza as the Commissionís chairperson. Members of the Commission were also named.

However, before Oza could even formally take charge, the Congress government fell. On March 20, 2000, Nath resigned as the chief minister and the BJP formed its government headed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The new government cancelled the appointment of Oza on March 26. However, she refused to accept the decision. ìThis is a constitutional post and the government cannot sack me like this,î she had said.

Oza moved the High Court, challenging the governmentís decision. Since then, the case is pending in the court. In the intervening period, Oza did visit the commissionís office but could not transact any business. ìOn governmentís instructions the staff refused to cooperate with me,î the chairperson had claimed.

This year, on June 24 Oza resigned as the chairperson, accusing the BJP government of ìcommitting an unpardonable sin by depriving the women of justice.ìAround 10,000 cases were pending when I was appointed. This backlog has now increased to about 17,500î, said Oza.

According to sources the government can appoint a new chairperson and members of the commission only after the case pending in the High Court is disposed of.††How long it may take is anybodyís guess.

Members haven't resigned

Only the chairperson of the MP Commission for Women Shobha Oza has resigned. The members are yet to resign. Only after they resign, the government will be able to reconstitute the commission.- Dr Hitesh Bajpai, spokesperson, State BJP

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