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Women judges to be sought for family courts

Staff Reporter

Government to write to High Court Chief Justice soon



INTERACTION: Minister for Women and Child Development H.K. Kumaraswamy in a discussion with (from left) Parvathi Thimmaiah, Secretary, and Pramila Nesargi, Chairperson, Karnataka State Commission For Women, and Shalini Rajnish, Principal Secretary, D epartment of Women and Child Development, in Bangalore on Tuesday. — Photo: K. Gopinathan

BANGALORE: The Government will soon be writing to the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court suggesting that women judges be appointed to the nine family courts in the State.

Minister for Women and Child Development H.K. Kumaraswamy told presspersons here on Tuesday that none of the family courts had women judges at present. Three of the courts are in Bangalore, and there is one each in Mysore, Belgaum, Bijapur, Raichur, Bagalkot and Davangere.

The family courts are special courts dealing with divorce cases, conjugal rights, custody of children, maintenance and dowry-related cases. Mr. Kumaraswamy said the Government's view was that women judges would be better placed to handle these cases sensitively and ensure the best judgment for women.

He said that though appointing women judges to family courts was not mandatory, the Government would suggest that women judges should be singled out for these courts as far as possible.

Cases increasing

Mr. Kumaraswamy, who reviewed the performance of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, said that in the past year the number of cases coming before the Commission had increased. During 2006-07, 768 complaints were received and 231 disposed of. There were 68 cases of dowry deaths, and ten had been disposed of.

The highest number of cases of cruelty was heard during the year. A total of 131 cases had been disposed of while 91 were still being heard. There were 38 cases relating to payment of maintenance in case of divorce and 28 cases of sexual harassment. Seven unnatural deaths of women were being heard in the family courts. There were 20 complaints of extramarital affairs, all of which are being heard in these courts, the Minister said.

Acid attacks

Ten of the 42 victims of acid attacks had been given a compensation of Rs. 10,000 each. There had been a conviction in only one case so far. However, the Government had released Rs. 1 crore for a scheme to cover the medical expenses of the victims. There were also plans to find employment for the victims, he said.

Mr. Kumaraswamy said there was a proposal to set up helpdesks for women in all districts. Currently there were seven helpdesks in the State. These Mahila Sahaya Vedikes would provide women with legal awareness and offer counselling and support to women in distress, including victims of harassment or abuse.

The Commission would organise awareness campaigns in districts with an emphasis on women's property rights. Mr. Kumaraswamy said since property disputes were the main cause of crimes against women, these campaigns would aim to educate women and empower them to some extent in resisting attacks.

Mahila adalats

Commission Chairperson Pramila Nesargi said there were plans to conduct mahila adalats to settle disputes that could be solved quickly and reduce the burden on the family courts.

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