Noted lawyer roped in to draft stringent law for punishment

Not evincing much confidence in the ability of the Delhi Police to function and monitor the closed circuit television systems properly for the safety of the populace in general and women in particular, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has ordered establishment of a special control room for women in distress in her office.

The Delhi Government has also decided to request Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh to prepare a draft Bill to make the law against sexual harassment and assault more stringent so that it acts as a deterrent too.

Ms. Dikshit, who had convened a meeting of several stakeholders to discuss the issues relating to safety of women on Wednesday evening, said the Delhi Government has decided to continue interaction with the Police Commissioner, women groups, government agencies and others in the matter.

“I want to personally monitor this issue and so just the way we had a power control room in my office so that all complaints and concerns could be reported to me directly, so in the case of harassment of women a control room has been set up,’’ Ms. Dikshit said.

Dedicated phone number

The Chief Minister said “there is a great need to sensitise the Delhi Police too about handling issues pertaining to victims. The two victims in this gang-rape incident lay on the road for a long time and no one came forward to assist them. We need to look at the reasons behind this and address them.’’

The control room for women in distress would be set up in the Chief Minister’s office at Delhi Secretariat and would have a dedicated phone number. It is expected to be commissioned by December 31.

As for the role to be played by Ms. Jaisingh, the Chief Minister said she would consult all stakeholders and prepare a draft bill to make the law against sexual harassment and assault more stringent. “This would go a long way in containing such incidents.’’

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) would in the meantime act as a nodal agency for launching a campaign on safeguarding the dignity and safety of women.

Protocol copies

Vis-à-vis the functioning of the Delhi Police, Ms. Dikshit said there was a need to disseminate police protocol by getting copies printed in large number to publicise the step by step procedure being adopted by police in registering first information reports and carrying out the investigations. The protocol, she said, would also be made available on the government website apart from offices of the District Administration.

The interaction was attended among others by Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh, Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid, chairman designate of FICCI Naina Kidwai, Mohini Giri from Guild of Services, senior lawyers Ms. Jaisingh and Vrinda Grover, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Kiran Walia and DCW chairperson Barkha Singh.

During the interaction a number of suggestions were submitted which included self defence training to women, increasing number of Police Control Room vans, improvement in conviction percentage, deployment of women staff in police stations, and monitoring and evaluation of court judgments.

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