NCW can’t act as a court: BHC

The Bombay High Court recently ruled that the National Commission for Women (“NCW”) does not have “unbridled power” and is not entitled to arrive at final conclusions or grant reliefs that a civil or criminal court can.

The Court’s ruling came while allowing a petition filed by global audit firm KPMG Indian subsidiary seeking quashing of proceedings initiated by NCW on a complaint of an ex-employee.

The Court observed that if a prima facie case is made out, NCW must issue notice to the organization and hear them before making or recommending remedial measures. “The commission is, however, not empowered to decide the rights of parties and due care must be taken in this behalf… Moreover, no purpose will be served by the commission arriving at findings or granting reliefs or issuing directions since the commission is not a court”, the Court said.

The Court further said that NCW has no jurisdiction to determine whether or not there was an unfair dismissal or whether such dismissal has caused loss of future career opportunity. Nor can the commission demand a letter of apology, direct payment of compensation, or grant relief by way of ordering payment of bonus.

In the Court’s view, the NCW was empowered to look into complaints relating to deprivation of women’s rights and non-implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women.

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