Project directors feel the heat

P. SujathaVarma

Flood of petitions and emerging challenges under Domestic Violence Act make things difficult for them

VIJAYAWADA: It is an irony that Project Directors (PDs) of the Women and Child Welfare Department, who have been designated as protection officers for the aggrieved parties under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, are an aggrieved lot today.

Soon after being vested with the responsibility of acting as protection officers, the PDs realised that their cup of woes was brimming. Flooded with a surfeit of petitions, the department is ill-equipped to tackle the cases and is hardly able to find time to address its regular affairs. Even as the officers are virtually groping in the dark, struggling hard to combat the emerging and growing challenges, fresh problems like the fangled jargon of the Act is playing havoc with the staff.

The PDs have been crying foul ever since the new law has come into effect, making vocal their demand for additional staff to defuse the crisis. “We invest a lot of time and energy to solve cases that come to us.

New trend

Counselling being our first preference, we try maximum for a rapprochement even if it takes multiple sittings,” explains M.J. Nirmala, Project Director of the Women & Child Welfare Department in Krishna district.

But, what is worsening the situation for them is a new trend being witnessed for the first time in Krishna district. Even after lengthy counselling sessions, cumbersome court hearings and the final judgment, respondents are refusing to adhere to the court verdict, and, instead, filing appeals in the mahila session’s court.

“The fact that respondents in four cases, in which the judgments have been delivered, have filed an appeal in the mahila sessions court indicates a trend that will spell further trouble for our department,” says Ms. Nirmala, explaining that the department has not fathomed the tedious exercise of filing counter affidavits and fighting the cases afresh on behalf of the aggrieved party.

“In one of these four cases, there were at least 20 court hearings attended by our department personnel. The prolonged counselling session that preceded the registration of the case was an additional investment. And now, all the efforts seem to have gone waste,” she laments.

Though the respondents are citing reasons as feeble as ‘non-compatibility’ or sound financial status of their spouse’s parents to end the wedlock and avoid paying maintenance, this means for the department fighting afresh a battle that is long over. So far, the department has received 267 petitions, and of them, 45 cases have been solved through counselling. As many as 35 cases have been registered. Interim orders have been given in a couple of cases, while final judgments have been delivered in nine cases.

Flood of petitions and emerging challenges under Domestic Violence Act make things difficult for them

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