The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre and the AAP government here to hold top-level meeting to deliberate on measures to curb domestic violence and protect the victims during the coronavirus lockdown.
A bench of Justices J R Midha and Jyoti Singh further directed that a decision be taken in three days and steps required to protect victims of domestic abuse be immediately implemented.
The April 18 order, uploaded Sunday night, came on an NGO's plea seeking measures to safeguard victims of domestic violence and child abuse amidst the coronavirus or COVID-19 lockdown.
The court, which heard the matter via video conferencing on April 18, also issued notice to the Centre, the Delhi government and the National and Delhi women commissions seeking their stand on the petition by April 24.
The NGO, All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice (AICHLS), has claimed that there were increasing number of domestic violence incidents since the nation was put under lockdown and sought an urgent intervention by the court.
During the hearing, the Delhi government and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had told the court that there are sufficient measures in place to safeguard victims of domestic violence and child abuse amidst the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.
The Women and Child Development department, represented by Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Urvi Mohan, had told the court that sufficient facilities were available to house victims of domestic violence and children in need of care and protection.
The department had also said there were 24x7 helplines in place and when a complaint is received rescue of victim(s) is carried out immediately.
The DCW, represented by advocate Rajshekhar Rao, had said that analysis of the calls received on its helpline during lockdown indicated no rising trend in domestic violence cases.
"On the contrary, the number of cases reported to the helpline have decreased. While no definite conclusion can be drawn, this is probably due to the circumspection on the part of victims in reporting such incidents due to the presence of the perpetrators in the house and the fear of further violence if such attempt to report were made known to the perpetrator," the commission had said.
It had also said that the cases of molestation, sexual assault, rape, kidnapping and stalking "have decreased manifold presumably since a large number of these incidents take place outside the domestic setting and by third parties".
AICHLS in its plea has contended that incidents of domestic violence and child abuse have gripped not only India but countries such as Australia, UK and USA and the reports suggest that countries are witnessing a horrific surge in domestic violence cases since the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdowns.
The plea has claimed that the helpline numbers across the country have received about 92,000 calls based on domestic abuse and violence in the first 11 days of the lockdown alone and sought to appoint nodal officers to attend such distress calls.