Telangana State Women's Commission without a chairperson for last 4 months, reveals RTI query

Sunitha Laxma Reddy resigned from the post of the chairperson of the Telangana State Women's Commission on 25 October last year. (Supplied) Sunitha Laxma Reddy resigned as the chairperson of the Telangana State Commission for Women (TSCW) on 25 October, 2023, as she was contesting in the Telangana Assembly elections. She won from Narsapur, and the post she left behind has been vacant for four months now, despite the commission’s official website showing her as the chairperson. This was revealed in an RTI response to Kareem Ansari, an activist in Hyderabad. Meanwhile, there has been no dearth of activity within the TSCW. According to the RTI reply, the commission received 630 complaints in 2022 and 790 in 2023. Of them, 374 were complaints of domestic violence (DV) in 2022 and 359 in 2023, 85 were of harassment in 2022 and 195 in 2023, four were of sexual harassment in 2022 and 19 in 2023, and five were of missing person or abduction in 2022 and two in 2023. There were also 11 complaints of rape in 2022 and 13 in 2023, and 18 pertaining to death in 2022 and 36 in 2023. There were also 124 complaints in the “others” category in 2022 and 154 in 2023. Allegations of political influence Kareem Ansari told South First, “In Telangana, despite a notable crime rate, the number of complaints registered remains disproportionately low.” He added: “It’s concerning that the chairperson position remains vacant, and the composition of the members lacks diversity, with no advocates, social activists, or retired officers.” He said the commission “needs more improvement to work for society”, adding that it had “never condemned any heinous crimes against women”. He also alleged that there was political influence within the TSCW, “whereas the women’s commission body should be independent”. He explained: “Every member is associated with the former government.” The insinuation was towards the BRS, which had been in power in the state for two consecutive terms from 2014 to 2023. “After their tenure, the new government should hire retired IAS and IPS officers, senior advocates, and social activists who possess the expertise to address issues and effectively advocate for victims,” he said. The ground reality A section officer from the TSCW told South First, “Currently, we do not have a chairperson and the tasks associated with that position are pending. However, the work of the nominated members continues without interruption.” Besides Sunitha Laxmi Reddy, the TSCW official website lists six other members: Shaheena Afroze, K Eshwari Bhai, Kommu Uma Devi Yadav, V Gaddala Padma, Sudham Laxmi, and Katari Revathi Rao. The officer noted: “We receive petitions through various channels, including email, phone calls, postcards, and our WhatsApp helpline number 9490335555.” He explained: “Each member is assigned a different district and focuses on addressing issues within that area. The response time depends on the nature of the petitioner’s problem.” The officer added: “Our role involves alerting higher officials, such as forwarding petitions regarding police inaction to senior police officers. Additionally, we handle other issues like land disputes.” Unfortunately, the officer was unable to provide information regarding the number of resolved complaints or the typical processing time for petitions by the commission.