The Delhi Commission for Women has said that its women’s helpline and rape crisis cell might have to shut down because the newly-appointed Member Secretary to the commission is not paying salary to its workers. The Member Secretary was appointed by the lieutenant governor without consulting the DCW chief.

“Diwali is a festival of lights and happiness. However, this year it’s a dark Diwali for the DCW staff, as the new Member Secretary appointed by the Government has refused to release two months’ salary to the contractual staff of DCW,” said a DCW statement.

“Despite the work undertaken by the commission in the past one year, certain vested interests have launched an attack on the autonomy of the panel. The latest has been the illegal appointment of a Member Secretary by the Centre,” the statement added.

Alka Diwan is the Member Secretary who was appointed in the first week of October and she has not released the salary of the 70 staff-members working at the Delhi Mahila Aayog. The staff members have not got the salary for September and October since Diwan has taken charge.

“We have had several commission meetings where we asked Diwan to release the salaries of the workers who have been working very hard to make the women’s helpline successful, but to no avail. Initially, she kept saying that she will release the salaries but nothing of that sort happened,” a DCW spokesperson told SheThePeople.TV.

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These workers, who have not been paid as yet, belong to the lower strata of society. While 52 of them earn less than Rs 25,000 in a month, only 10 employees get Rs 35,000 and many have been associated with the commission for over 18 years now.

DCW states that Diwan’s appointment is illegal as the government has not notified them about it. Her induction happened through a simple office order, said DSW chief Swati Malliwal

She is also a serving government officer, presently posted as the VAT Commissioner, and has been given the additional charge of Member Secretary of the Commission. This is in violation of the DCW Act, which calls for a full-time member secretary and is a direct way of subverting the autonomy of the Commission. A government officer, who works only part time in the Commission and continues to work full time with the Government, has her loyalties with the Government and not with the Commission,” said the statement.

Picture credit- India Today