First court for women in country

Malda, Jan. 23: The first court in the country to deal with crimes against women was inaugurated by the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Arun Mishra here today.

The court will have an additional district and sessions court and a judicial magistrate's court under it.

Following national outrage after the December 16 Delhi gang rape, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir directed all high courts to set up courts that would deal with crimes against women and have women judes and staff.

He also said that the lawyers connected with cases filed by women should preferably be women.

Today, Justices Joymalya Baghi and Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwaliah of the high court, district judge Siddhartha Chatterjee and other judges from Malda were present at the inaugural programme.

The opening was delayed by about 30 minutes as no one from the Malda Bar Association was present for the event.

Justice Mishra, who was supposed to inaugurate the court at 10.30am, waited for a while and ultimately cut the ribbon around 11am.

Judge Mina Sarkar was the first additional district and sessions judge to take over the duties followed by Keya Sarkar, the judicial magistrate.

The courts of the additional district and sessions judge and the judicial magistrate would have two Group D staff members, two clerks, one stenographer and two women police personnel each.

"With the opening of this court, many pending cases will be disposed off quickly," justice Mishra said.

After the inauguration, he toured the Malda court premises and visited the office of the Malda Bar Association, also in the same compound, where he was felicitated in the library on the first floor.

The bar association members told justice Mishra that they did not attend the inauguration as they were not invited to the event. Only the chairman and the secretary of the association were asked to attend the programme.

"Invitations should have been sent to all the members," Justice Mishra told the district judge.

He later asked the Bar association members to attend a seminar on crimes against women.

"Please attend the seminar on gender justice and atrocities against women at the Town Hall in Malda. I have an engagement in Behrampore and I will not be able to stay for the seminar," said justice Mishra.

He inaugurated the seminar before leaving.

Justice Bagchi said at the seminar: "From female foeticide to sati, crimes against women in our country begin from even before they are born. According to a Thomson-Reuters survey on crimes against women, India ranks fourth. It is also a matter of concern that our state is witnessing trafficking of women. I have come to know that in a particular police station in the South 24-Parganas, 51 cases on women trafficking have been registered since the 2009 Aila cyclone. Mere laws cannot prevent these crimes. Social awareness is of prime importance."

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