When, at one stance, the India is fighting against deadly pandemic Covid-19 and has entered into Day 21 of it's lockdown, with a possibility of it's further extension, some families at home also, are not at much peace, because of more proximity and less understanding among each other.
Recently, the Chief of National Commission for Women namely; Rekha Sharma, made a statement that, there is a rise in Domestic Violence Complaints now, as the number of complaints has spurred two folds, with 116 complaints in the first week of March, 2020 to 257 complaints in the final week of March, 2020.
With all inhospitable conditions around, during lockdown, causing inaccessibility to Courts, the right to invoke legal remedies for enforcement of legal rights, in as much as, fundamental rights, has not become dormant, expression of which can be understood in term of legal maxim; "Ubi jus ibi remedium", which says that; "where there is a right, there is a remedy."
For the protection of Women from domestic violence, the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, was enacted. The purpose of this act was to protect women from any violence, which may be in the nature of; physical, mental, verbal, emotional, sexual, economic, dowry etc., inflicted upon her, by her huband or in-laws, while being at matrimonial home. The definition of domestic violence was elaborated in Section 3 of the D.V. Act, 2005. The said act proved to be a very important tool for protection of not only legal rights of women, but also fundamental rights, as enshrined under Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The advantageous part of the D.V. Act, 2005, was appointment of "Protection Officers" by Government under sub-section (1) of Section 8; who can be a person appointed by govt. under this act, as to deal with the issues of Domestic violence and is empowered to provide first hand assistance to the aggrieved women, before taking recourse to Court or Police stations. The duties and functions of Protection officers are defined under Sections 5 & 8 of the D.V. Act, 2005, which can be of tremendous utilization at present instance, when the access to court is quite difficult and the lives of women facing domestic violence can be perilous.
Under the provisions of D.V. Act, 2005, there are provisions to provide Shelter Homes, in as much as, Medical facilities, to the aggrieved lady, in terms of Section 6 and 7 of the D.V. Act, 2005; which can be provided either, at the request of aggrieved person or also at the request of Protection Officer. Thus, through proper awareness, any aggrieved lady can take shelter and be protected, for the time being from the atrocities of husband/in-laws, till the situation normalizes and proper court functioning resumes. The protection officer, just on the basis of information received from aggrieved person/lady, can report to the police officer of Incharge Police Station to act in this regard and can also, report to the Vacation Magistrate in some grave situation, where the aggrieved is expecting some imminent threat to her life. Therefore, Protection officer can prove to be saviour to such needy women, at such relevant point of time, without resorting to some tedious procedure.
That, by the collaborative effort of the organisations dealing in the protection of women rights, the relevant information can be dispersed through technological means, by virtue of which the aggrieved women can have expeditious remedy, like; easy access to the protection officers and such platform can be helpful in near future.
At such tense times, the Government at Union and State level, needs to take innovative steps, which may involve circulating the numbers of Protection Officers, as per their area of jurisdiction, through social media, Television broadcast, News Paper, etc. The Government can also launch a mobile application, streamlining the form filing, in regard to alleged domestic violence act and accessibility to nearby protection officer. So that, any mishappening can be prevented at an earliest, without a victim to be shrouded in doubts, as to what course be adopted in the time of such distress, when going out won't be easy and staying at home will be riskier. Such, measure needs to be taken on an emergent basis by the Government, so that, there will be no further exponential growth of Domestic Violence cases, like that of covid-19 pandemic cases.
Views Are Personal Only
(Author is Practising Advocate at High Court of J&K, at Jammu )