Maharashtra government has begun the process of appointing protection officers under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) to help aggrieved women, the Bombay High Court was informed here today.
Hearing a petition, a division bench, comprising Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anil Menon, expressed satisfaction at the substantial compliance made by Maharashtra government in appointing protection officers. Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed the HC that training programmes for protection officers are on, after which they would assume full time duty.
Maharashtra government had acted after the HC had threatened to issue a contempt notice for failing to comply with its orders under various pretexts since 2010 to appoint protection officers. The HC had also rapped the state government for its "insensitive approach" towards women's safety and domestic violence faced by women.
The state government said that it created 142 more posts of protection officers, in addition to the existing 216 posts. Appointment letters have been issued to 105 candidates so far. Of these, recruitment of 65 candidates is in the last phase.
Besides, the state government has earmarked 45 seats for Marathas and Muslim candidates which would be filled up soon. The Advocate General had informed the HC last month that within six months 358 multi-purpose employees and assistants would be recruited as protection officers.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Rajendra Anbhule, which has contended that protection officers have not been appointed in many districts. Initially, the government failed to make any appointments claiming that it did not have sufficient funds.
Last year, the government had said that the appointment of protection officers was stopped because the issue of Maratha and Muslim reservations was pending before the High Court. Irked by this, the High Court had said "earlier you (government) kept saying that you don't have enough funds.
Now you say that the issue of reservations is pending. Enough is enough". Under the DV Act, a protection officer shall conduct inquiry into allegations of domestic violence and arrange for meetings if needed between parties to the dispute. A protection officer would also forward legal assistance to women as required under the DV Act. The High Court has posted the PIL to be heard on March 10.