The AAP government has decided to give quasi-judicial powers to sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) in order to ensure women’s safety.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the power will be conferred on the SDMs to summon any accused who misbehaves with a woman on a bus. The SDM will also be empowered to take action against them if found guilty.
But legal experts believe that conferring quasi-judicial powers on SDMs is not legally possible unless approved by the High Court.
Speaking to the Newsline, Siddharth Luthra, senior advocate and former ASG, said the SDM cannot summon or punish any accused.
“The CrPC has provisions to appoint special judicial magistrates. However, this can only be done by the High Court after framing rules,” Luthra said.
Provisions of the CrPC state that the High Court can confer this power on request of the state or the Central government, for a period of up to one year at a time.
Sisodia said women’s security remains a concern for the government. “We have asked for a report of dark spots from Delhi Police. We will depute mahila suraksha dal — comprising civil defence and home guards — to make rounds of these areas.
On all DTC buses, marshals will be deputed from 6 pm to 12 pm. SDMs will be instructed to do surprise checks on buses. They will be empowered to take action against anyone accused of harassing women on buses and would have quasi-judicial powers to summon them as well. It will act as deterrent,” Sisodia said.
Former Solicitor General of India Mohan Parasaran said the CrPC allowed the government to issue executive orders to create special magistrates with the approval of the High Court, but such action was “unheard of”.