Women’s organisations and activist groups have requested the Chief Justice of Rajasthan to consider setting up exclusive courts for the trial of cases under the Domestic Violence Act 2005. Three years after the implementation of the Act—which came into force on October 26, 2006—the cases have piled up in the courts while there is confusion over the role of protection officers and service providers, they pointed out.

The groups, numbering a dozen and a half, who held a dharna and public meeting here on Monday to focus on the need for judicial implementation of the Act said in their memorandum to the Chief Justice that the increasing number of cases of domestic violence demanded speedy disposal of cases which was not happening. In Jaipur alone 1,548 cases have been registered so far but only 687 have been decided so far. In Rajasthan-- which has registered highest number of cases under the Act among all the States-- their number crossed 4000, they said.

The activists expressed their concern over the courts reportedly not counting the cases under the Act at par with others. “We have been informed that the cases under the above mentioned Act are not counted in the quota which a court is expected to fulfil. Naturally if this is the case the court is bound to treat these cases as an extra burden and this may be one of the reasons in lacklustre handling of these cases,” they said.

The groups included Rajasthan University Women’s Association(RUWA), Women’s Rehabilitation Group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, National Federation of Indian Women, Vishakha, Women’s Resource and Education Group, Academy of Socio Legal Studies, National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, Bharat Gyaan Vigyaan Samiti, Vividha, and All India Democratic Women’s Association..

A general guideline for all Judicial Magistrates by the court was sought on adhering to the stipulated norm—under Section 12(4) of the Act—to serve notice on respondents within three days. The aspects such as granting interim relief and implementation of the orders and provision of Section 23 for ex-parte interim relief are rarely used. Elaborate guidelines are required on these as well as in areas such as recovery, protection orders, and the use of Section 31 of the Act.

“There is also confusion about taking service of protection officers and service providers. They are usually required by the courts to make enquiry and submit report which is not their function. They are actually meant to help and assist the victim,” the memorandum pointed out.

“We feel that judicial officers dealing with cases under the Act require special training not only about the law but also about its background, philosophy, behaviour, respect for the dignity of women and orientation,” it said.