Shelter homes for destitute women: HC issues notice to Govt on PIL

The PIL seeks direction to the Chief Secretary to sensitise the police officers and members of judicial officers with respect to gender-based violence.
The organisation, a “not-for-profit trust” has approached the Court with the contention that the government has not implemented the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2005 in Jammu and Kashmir. [Image for representational purpose only]
The organisation, a “not-for-profit trust” has approached the Court with the contention that the government has not implemented the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2005 in Jammu and Kashmir. [Image for representational purpose only]pixahive [Creative Commons]

Srinagar: High Court of J&K and Ladakh has issued notice to government for its response on a Public Interest Litigation seeking to set up shelter homes for destitute women in Jammu and Kashmir as mandated under Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

After hearing an organisation Mehram Womens’ Cell Kashmir, through its counsel Syed Musaib, a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma issued notice to Jammu and Kashmir through Chief Secretary.

The organisation, a “not-for-profit trust” has approached the Court with the contention that the government has not implemented the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2005 in Jammu and Kashmir.

The establishment of shelter homes as mandated by the DV Act, 2005, the organisation says, plays a prominent role in the efficacious implementation of the social welfare legislation.

While the organisation claims that the Act was drafted and passed with the object of effectively protecting the rights of the women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family, it says.

It has been more than a decade since the Act came into force in J&K and yet the state Government has failed to execute and implement the Act properly. “There are no shelter homes available for the victims of domestic violence in J&K,” it pleads.

The petitioner submits that the Government has failed not only to discharge the statutory obligations but has equally failed in fulfilling and showing the requisite commitment to the constitutional and international duties and obligations with respect to the establishment of shelter homes.

The organisation pleads that the gender discriminatory customs, practices and rituals against women in Kashmir continue to institutionalise second class status for women and girls with regard to elections, education, marital rights, employment rights, parental rights, and inheritance and property rights. “These forms of discrimination against the Kashmiri women are incompatible with their empowerment.”

Despite the adequate protection ensured by the various provisions of the Act, the organisation says, the women in Kashmir are still continuing to suffer and bear the agony and trauma caused by their in-laws because of the failure on part of the State Government to create shelter homes for the protection of victims of violence and ineffectual implementation of the Act.

While the petitioner seeks directions for putting in place adequate infrastructure across the Jammu and Kashmir for creating shelter homes for the victims of domestic violence, it also calls for the proper implementation of the mandatory provisions of Chapter III of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and for proper appointment and functioning of Protection Officers.

The PIL seeks direction to the Chief Secretary to sensitise the police officers and members of judicial officers with respect to gender-based violence. It prays that aggrieved persons should be granted ‘residence order’ under Section 19 of the DV Act, 2005. The court has posted the PIL for further consideration on May 13.

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