National Commission for Women acting beyond Jurisdiction

Delhi High Court: Expressing its disapproval of an executive advisory issued by the respondent National Commission for Women (NCW), a Single Bench of Endlaw J. ruled that NCW functions in a recommendatory capacity and is not an adjudicatory body, awarding a compensation of Rs. 30,000 for the petitioner payable by NCW within four weeks.

The petitioner in the matter, a Marine Engineer, is husband to the second respondent. Due to disputes and differences arising between the petitioner and the second respondent, the latter filed a complaint against the petitioner with the Special Unit of Women and Child of Crime Against Women Cell of Delhi Police and also filed a petition in the District Court at Saket, New Delhi against the petitioner under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. She further filed a complaint with the NCW, which issued an advisory to the High Commission of India in Singapore in complete non-compliance of principles of natural justice. Having received the issued advisory, the employer of the petitioner revoked his employment. Later, prima facie observing that the NCW had acted beyond the scope of its authority, the Court had stayed the operation of the impugned advisory till the disposal of the petition through an interim order. The petitioner represented by Nandita Rao argued that the first respondent ignored that the CAW Cell of Delhi Police and the District Court at Saket were seized of the disputes and that all the properties of the petitioner were in India. However, arguing for the validity of the advisory, NCW represented by Jasmeet Singh averred that it derives the authority for its action from a letter issued by the Ministry of Overseas Affairs, Government of India to receive and process all the complaints related to Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands.

Observing that the NCW had misconstrued its functions in pursuance of the letter and that the letter only makes it a coordinating agency for ensuring that the women in distress are guided to “appropriate agencies/authorities” empowered and constituted to take action on their complaints and such agencies act on the complaints and that the orders issued by such agencies/authorities are in turn implemented. Court expressed its dismay upon the frequent actions taken by NCW beyond its jurisdiction by citing several previous judgments, where such actions were noted. [Kunal Chauhan v. National Commission for Women, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 2009 decided on 31/03/2016]  

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