NCW has no authority to grant relief in complaints: Delhi High Court

Aditya AK

The Delhi High Court today ruled that the National Commission for Women (NCW) is not empowered to arrive at a final conclusion on complaints received by it.

The case stems from a complaint made to the NCW by one Devika Singh, who alleged that she and her child were abandoned by her husband, who was working in Singapore. In her complaint, Singh asked the Commission to write to her husband’s employer in Singapore and to ensure that he is not posted to any foreign country until the matrimonial dispute was resolved.

The NCW subsequently wrote an advisory letter to the High Commission in Singapore asking them to “take appropriate steps as per law”. A few days after the receipt of this letter, the husband found himself out of his job.

Aggrieved by this, he filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to NCW to recall its advisory and to direct an investigation into the “illegal, wrongful and mala fide” conduct of the NCW officials. The petitioner also sought compensation of Rs.75,49,958/- for the loss suffered by him.

In March last year, a single judge allowed the petition partly, holding the following:

(i) No provision of Section 10 of NCW Act empowers NCW to send the advisory dated 14.06.2013.

(ii) The role of NCW as a coordinating agency at the National level to receive and process the complaints related to Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands (vide recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women) is only to ensure that the women in distress are guided to appropriate agencies/authorities…

(iii) All that NCW on receipt of complaint from the respondent No.2 could have done is to advise the respondent No.2 to approach the police/court empowered to compel the presence of the petitioner and to ensure that the police consider the application/representation of the respondent No.2 in accordance with law.

(iv) Instead NCW chose to adopt a procedure not sanctioned in law and has abrogated to itself the task of the judge as well as of executing its own decision.

The single judge also noted that during this time, the complainant was working as a consultant to the National Mission for Empowerment of Women under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and also noted that misuse of such position could not be ruled out.

Both the complainant and the Commission would then prefer appeals to this order. Hearing both matters together, a Division Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal upheld the single judge’s ruling and held,

“Having regard to Section 10 of the NCW Act and the object sought to be achieved by the said Act, we are clear in our mind that it has never been the legislative intent to empower NCW to arrive at any final conclusion on any complaint received by it or to grant any relief which a Court is empowered to do.

Therefore, as rightly held by the learned Single Judge, NCW is not entitled to issue the impugned advisory to the employer of the writ petitioner/respondent No.1, that too without any information to him.”

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand appeared for the Commission, Senior Advocate Kailash Vasudev appeared for the complainant and Senior Advocate Rebecca John represented the petitioner husband.

Read the judgment:

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news