The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the NCW to perform its statutory duty and take cognisance of the matters infringing the constitutional rights of women such as the right to privacy. Subhra Agarwal, a resident of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, had approached the National Commission for Women (NCW) claiming that her phone connections with the BSNL and Reliance have been kept under "illegal" surveillance since April 20, 2016. She wanted the surveillance be lifted on those mobile numbers and sought remedy for the breach. Agarwal claimed that her right to privacy, which is intrinsic part of right to life under Article 21, was breached by two mobile service providers- Reliance and BSNL. While the NCW seems to be reluctant to act in the matter, the Central Information Commission has asked it to perform its statutory duty in this case. Nearly a week after filing representation with the NCW in July, 2016, Agarwal filed an RTI application seeking to know what action was taken in the matter. Citing an order of the Delhi High Court which had chided the NCW for exceeding its jurisdiction by issuing an advisory to the employer of a victim in a separate matter, the women's panel claimed its hands are tied. "It is clear that the operating part of that case was only limited to the factual scenario of that case and cannot be used by the NCW Act to avoid its statutory duties as enshrined in the NCW Act.
It is not correct to quote this order and plead helplessness," Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu pointed out. He said the Supreme Court has held that the NCW has authoritative powers, is empowered to take up cases accordingly, to fulfil the objective of the legislation and to secure the rights of women aggrieved by the atrocities. Acharyulu said the NCW should have taken notice of the complaint through the RTI application and the appeal. It should have acted to secure the rights of the complainant woman who alleged breach of her right to privacy, he said. "The Commission recommends the NCW to perform its statutory obligation as stipulated under chapter III of the NCW Act especially under section 10 of the same act. The CPIO has left the applicant guessing what action was taken, as he has not provided any specific information," he said. He said chairperson of the NCW should be informed about the case of Agarwal and necessary action should be initiated. "The Commission directs the public authority to provide certified copies of entire file pertaining to this complaint, copies of correspondence, and inform the applicant the current action taken report or status of progress of their action, free of cost...," he said.
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