Protection Officers nominated by the state government under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act for conducting enquiries into cases of violence should play a pivotal role in resolving issues with a positive approach.

Most Indian women, despite preferring complaints, are not inclined to break their marital bondage. Protection Officers should exercise their responsibility carefully and arrange for additional sittings between affected persons and their spouses, observed Hemant Laxman Gokhale, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.

Inaugurating the day-long workshop on the Protection of Women under Domestic Violence Act 2005 organised jointly by the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board and the Women’s Integrated National Development Trust here on Sunday, Justice Gokhale said that Protection Officers should ascertain the gravity of the problem and take efforts to extend maximum assistance to the woman.

He said that violence incidents warranted case-specific orders such as grant of immediate maintenance, ‘residence order’ directing the in-laws or spouse to allot a separate room for a woman vacating house under duress. He also suggested that the orders for sanctioning subsistence allowance, normally sanctioned for industrial workers placed under suspension, could also be considered.

Justice Gokhale said that many families may not prefer to enter the portals of a court and the ambience of a court may not be conducive for the family members, especially those with children.

He hoped that the workshop, the second of its kind in the state, would address the issues in resolving the domestic violence-related cases to a great extent.

Justice G.M. Akbar Ali, Judge of the Madras High Court, said that the workshop with joint participation by all the stakeholders - the police, advocates, judicial officers and counsellors would go a long way in arriving at some clarification on procedures thereby ensuring an expeditious solution to domestic violence cases. Separate trainings organised for stakeholder did not yield the desired results due to various interpretation of the provisions of the Act. Early settlement of cases would keep the families in tact.

Justice B. Rajendran, Judge, Madras High Court, underlined the need for a co-ordinated effort by the stakeholders. Rokkiah Malik, Chairperson, State Social Welfare Board, said the Act had extended protection to women against domestic violence.

M.P. Nirmala Rani, Commissioner for Social Welfare, said that the state government has planned to nominate one Protection Officer for every court jurisdiction. She sought guidelines for appointment of Assistant Public Prosecutors for handling cases under these civil disputes which simultaneously involved criminal proceedings.