The West Bengal Commission for Women At a Glance
The West Bengal Commission for Women was established as an autonomous statutory body after the West Bengal Commission for Women Act was passed in the State Assembly on 22 June, 1992. The Commission started functioning from 3 February, 1993.
Composition of the Commission
The Women’s Commission is reconstituted every three years. The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson to be nominated by the State Government, nine Members to be appointed by the State Government, of whom at least one shall be a member of the Scheduled Caste and one shall be member of a Scheduled Tribe and an officer of the State Government who shall be the Member-Secretary.
Powers and Functions
The Commission is a monitoring and recommendatory body.
(1) The Commission performs all or any of the following functions :
(a) investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution of India and other laws, and recommend steps to be taken by the State Government for effective implementation of such safeguards;
(b) review the existing provisions of the Constitution and other laws affecting women and recommend amendments thereto so as to suggest remedial legislative measures to meet any lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislation;
(c) take up cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women in the State with the appropriate authorities;
(d) look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to –
(i) deprivation of women’s rights;
(ii) non-implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women;
(iii) noncompliance with policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships and ensuring welfare of and providing
relief to women; and take up issues arising out of such matters with
(e) call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal;
(0 evaluate the progress of advancement of women in the State;
(g) visit a jail, destitute girls’ home, women’s institution or any other place of custody where women are kept as prisoners or otherwise and take up with the concerned authorities such matters for remedial action as may be necessary;
(h) any other matter which may be referred to it by the State Government.
(2) The State Government may consult the Commission on policy matters affecting women.
(3) The Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred to in clauses (a) and (d) of subsection (1), have all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, while trying a suit, and, in particular, in respect of the following matters:
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath; 4
(b) requiring the discovery and production of any document;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits; (d) any other matter which may be prescribed.
(4) (a) The Commission shall present to the State Government every six months and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit reports of its activities together with its recommendations and the State Government shall cause them to be laid before the State Legislature as soon as possible along with a memorandum explaining the action
taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations and the reasons for non-acceptance, if any, of any of such recommendations. (b) It shall be the duty of the Commission to furnish comments and recommendations on any report of the National Commission for Women on any matter with which the State Government is concerned as that Government may call for.
Pre-litigation Counselling and Complaint Cell ( PLCC ) of the Commission
Responding to the need of the thousands of helpless women, falling victims of atrocities, injustice, deprivation and discrimination, the West Bengal Commission for Women started its Pre-litigation Counselling and Complaint Cell ( PLCC ) on 21stJanuary, 1999 with a meagre staff strength, comprising of 2 Counsellors and 1 Clerk-cum-Typist. It was envisaged that it would act as an umbrella to the helpless women.
But the infrastructure was not built, rather depleted in course of time. In fact, the cell has been functioning with only one Counsellor, Dr. Gopa Majumder (Pal), M.Sc., MSW, Ph D for the last five (5) years or more with some ad-hoc arrangements. She has also been acting as the Officer-in-charge of the PLCC. Notwithstanding an acute manpower shortage, the cell has developed itself as a responsive and vibrant organ of the Commission reducing the response time for the complaints received by it to the bare minimum, through a missionary zeal imbibed in the work culture of the cell. However, the present Commission has engaged Dr. Jonaki Mukherjee, a professional counsellor, who attends the Commission twice a week, normally on Wednesday and Friday.
Computerisation of the cell has, of course, made it modern and updated to respond to the call of the petitioners. The complaints / petitions sent to the Commission by person, post or e-mail are first categorised and registered to generate a Unique Identification Number (UIN) with receipts. The petitioners are apprised of the development of their cases on call through continuous updating the status of the cases.
For family dispute, conjugal problem, domestic violence both parties are summoned to the Commission to explore an amicable settlement through counselling. Successful cases are tabled before Paribarik Mahila Lok Adalats (PMLA) organised periodically in collaboration of the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) for awarding decree. Sub-judice cases are generally referred to the SLSA / concerned DLSA for providing free legal aid.
Rape/ murder / dowry torture / physical and mental torture / unnatural death / trafficking / cyber crime cases are forwarded to the concerned police authorities to take immediate action and report to the Commission within a specified period for apprising the petitioners and taking further action, if found necessary.
Complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace are referred to the concerned administrative authorities to take necessary action as per provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women ( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013 and Rules made there under and report compliance of the recommendations of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). Complaints of Harassment at Workplace are also taken up with concerned administrative authorities for redressal of the grievances of the complainants.
Petitions of senior citizens are referred to the concerned Sub-divisional Officers / Prescribed Authorities to take proper action as per Senior Citizen Protection Act – 2007.
Where the opposite parties (Ops) are of different states, help and intervention of the concerned State Commission for Women are generally sought for. Likewise, where the OPs reside abroad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), GOI is approached for rendering necessary help and guidance.
The Commission’s Library
The Commission’s library established in November 1998 holds a considerable number of books on law, empowerment, health and education of women and children. Several important reports published by different State Women’s Commissions, National Commission for Women, publications brought Out by government departments and non-government organizations and Women’s Studies Research Centres of different universities and by international organizations like UNICEF and WHO are included in the holdings of this library. ‘Narikanth’, the newsletter brought out by the Commission periodically and other publications of the Commission are also available in the Library. Besides, different journals, pamphlets and posters on women’s issues are a special attraction of this library. List of books published by this Commission is available in Commission’s website: www.wbcw.co.in.
Library remains open for readers from Monday to Friday from 12:30 pm. To 4:30 pm. Permission is given to readers to use the library without any charge on the basis of written application. Xerox facility, documentation, reference services and news ( clippings on women’s issues are available.
Jalasampad Bhawan,Ground Floor and 10th Floor,Block – DF, Sector – 1,Salt Lake City,Kolkata – 700091