NCW not empowered to initiate criminal proceedings, says Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court has awarded a compensation of Rs. 40,000 to a man who was off-loaded by immigration authorities from an aircraft here on the basis of a look-out circular issued by the NCW, saying statutory bodies are not empowered to initiate criminal proceedings.
The High Court said that the compensation award has to be equally shared by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for de-boarding Vikram Sharma, against whom no FIR was lodged in connection with a matrimonial dispute.
Mr. Sharma had approached the court alleging that the FRRO had acted illegally in off-loading and detaining him here in April 2008 at the instance of NCW where his wife had filed a complaint.
“This court is of the view that the action of NCW in writing to the DCP, FRRO for the issuance of LOC (look-out circular) against Sharma was without the authority of law. The consequent action of FRRO (which) resulted in the petitioner (Sharma) being detained at IGI airport on April 8, 2008 was also illegal,” Justice S. Muralidhar said.
The court asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to issue clarification orders within three months stating that a request for issuance of LOC cannot emanate from statutory bodies like NCW, NHRC as well as National and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights which are vested with the powers of a civil court.
“The NHRC, the NCW, the NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) have not been vested with the powers of a criminal court and do not have powers to enforce criminal law,” Justice Murlidhar said.
“They should bring the necessary facts to the notice of law enforcement agencies like the police, which will then make a request for issuance of LOC upon an assessment of the situation and strictly in terms of the procedure outlined for the purpose,” he said.
Mr. Sharma had alleged that he was “made to stand in solitary confinement in a toilet” and his passport was stamped with the remarks “Off loaded-deported due to criminal complaint”.
The court while accepting the plea of Sharma ordered removal of remarks from his passport.
When the incident had occurred, the NCW was seized of a complaint against Mr. Sharma in which his wife had expressed apprehension that her husband might flee the country to avoid the mediation process pending before it.
The NCW had sent a request for issuance of the look-out circular when the petitioner expressed his inability to appear before it.
Mr. Sharma had submitted that the Crime Against Women (CAW) cell of Delhi Police had also issued an LOC against him on his wife’s complaint, but the same was later withdrawn after the case was transferred to Anti Extortion Cell of Delhi Police.