The Madras High Court Friday granted the Tamil Nadu government six weeks time to respond to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking necessary measures to bring a legislation for protecting women from domestic violence.
A bench of Chief Justice V K Tahilramani and Justice M Duraiswamy, before which the PIL of advocate Sudha Ramalingam came up, granted the time as sought by the government pleader in-charge Jayaprakash Narayan.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on January 25.
The petitioner submitted that Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, dealing with cruelty against women, was not enough to capture the entire spectrum of domestic violence or provide comprehensive relief to them.
Hence, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. was brought into effect on October 26, 2006, the petitioner said.
The Act is aimed at providing more effective protection to women through specific, time-bound legal remedies, but it has not been effective in Tamil Nadu because of an increase in women filing domestic violence cases, dearth of protection officers and practical roadblocks, the petitioner said, while seeking the appointment of more officers.
The petitioner pointed out that under Section 12(1) of the Act, those affected can get access to the magistrate by submitting the application herself or through the protection officer, who, in turn, can prepare a domestic incident report and submit it to the magistrate for further action.
She alleged that magistrates, even without conducting a preliminary enquiry into the merits of the case, mechanically forward every application to the protection officer for the preparation of the domestic incident report, which is absolutely not mandated under the Act.
Therefore, there was a need for guidelines on the matter and also training for the magistrates and protection officers for effective implementation of the Act, she said.
The advocate requested that these petitions be treated as urgent when filed before magistrates and for clear guidelines to be issued to number them expeditiously.
In cases where the protection officers' report was essential for adjudication, a shorter deadline should be fixed for receipt of the report, the petitioner suggested.
Suggesting various ways to be adopted in the above cases the petitioner said unless there was an increase of protection officers in the district level and appointment of such officers at the taluk level, there would not be effective implementation of the Act in Tamil Nadu.
The petitioner prayed for a direction to the Registrar General of the Madras High Court to frame a court practice manual for judicial officers and legal practitioners in a time bound manner to implement the Act.