A special task force (STF) for women safety has been reconstituted with the approval of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the Delhi government’s Home Department has said in a communication sent to the Delhi High Court.
Last year, The Union Home Ministry’s decision to disband the Special Task Force (STF) on women’s safety in Delhi drew sharp reactions from various women’s organizations which termed it a “regressive” step and blamed the Centre for not giving “due importance” to the issue.
“This is a regressive step on the part of the government. Such a move will weaken the resolve of creating safe and secure conditions for women,” said women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari. The government, she said, instead of weakening and disbanding the existing institutions on women’s safety should rather work towards strengthening them. “People voted for Modi government so that issues related to women are addressed. But successive governments have failed to give due importance to the issues of women. “The government should work towards strengthening the existing institutions like NCW and DCW in terms of giving them more power, budget, and authority so that they can effectively address the issues related to women’s safety,” she said.
But today when the decision to reconstitute the 12-member task force was taken on January 17 pursuant to the High Court’s December 21, 2016, order asking the LG’s office to advise whether any special task force (STF) on women’s safety was in place in the national capital. The letter dated January 20 of the Home Department would be placed before the bench, which is hearing a PIL initiated on its own after the December 16, 2012, gang rape case, in which it has been giving directions from time to time with regard to improving crime investigation and protection of women in Delhi. The direction regarding the STF was issued when on the last date of hearing, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal expressed doubts over the existence of the task force, claiming that the LG had not called a meeting with regard to the safety of women in the national capital in last one year. The task force was established in 2013 following the December 16, 2012, murder and gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus here. It was disbanded last year. The STF will be headed by Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal, and will have Delhi Chief Secretary, Delhi Police Commissioner, DCW chief, and Principal Secretary, Home Department (Delhi), Divisional Commissioner, Revenue, Transport Commissioner, Delhi, Police Commissioner, Special (Traffic), Special Commissioner of Delhi Police, Women Safety, Chairperson of the NDMC, Commissioners of all three municipal corporations (East, West, South), Excise Commissioner Delhi, Secretary Women and Child Development Department (Delhi), Secretary Social Welfare Department and a member from the Union Home Ministry – Union Territory Division among others, as its members.
Meeting every 15 days-
The meeting of the force will be held in every 15 days, the DCW chief said in a statement. The women’s panel said the STF had been formed in response to a notice issued by the High Court to the L-G on a DCW petition seeking response as to why no committee on women’s safety had been set up. The DCW said it had repeatedly appealed to the Home Minister and the then L-G Najeeb Jung on this issue, adding that in July 2016 the STF was disbanded.
“The Special Task Force was formed during the time of the Nirbhaya rape [case] and was chaired by the Home Secretary. The Home Department of the Delhi government issued orders for the reconstitution of the Special Task Force on January 17 after getting the L-G’s assent,” the statement read.