KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the chief secretary of Sindh to form a high-level committee to develop a mechanism to address all issues pertaining to women by one department with complete autonomy.
A single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar said that the proposed committee would complete its work within six months and monthly reports will be submitted for the perusal of the court.
On a previous hearing, the bench had observed that all departments dealing with women issues particularly the status of women commission, the social welfare department and the women development department must be brought under one umbrella and directed the chief secretary to submit an effective mechanism in this regard after consulting all stakeholders.
At the outset of the hearing, the secretary of social welfare department came up with a report with regard to working in pursuance with the directions that all women issues should be handled under one umbrella preferably by women development department, but contended that the women devolvement department could not address all issues regarding women since it was lacking the capacity.
The bench observed that before the 18th Amendment, women issue was the subject of the concurrent list and thus it was a federal department and it had established working women hostels in every district and had experts in their respective field particularly dealing with women issues.
It further said that the same department had also established many centres for the welfare of women to provide them different skills, but the secretary of social welfare department contended that there would be difficulty if all women issues were handed over to women development department.
After the 18th amendment, it has become a provincial subject and two departments are existing and working with different budget and offices, the bench said and explained that any mechanism to be provided by the provincial authorities with regard to handling of women issues by two departments under one umbrella, will not affect upon service structure of officers and their cadres working in their respective departments.
The bench directed the chief secretary to notify the high-level committee comprising secretaries of the women development, social welfare, finance, law and S&GAD departments, chairperson status of women commission and under the chairmanship of Dr Naheed Durrani the chairperson of planning & development board, adding that Advocate Sara Malkani and Advocate Ali Ahmed Palh will also be included in the committee for providing assistance and it will complete its working within six months and monthly reports will be submitted before the court for perusal and he secretary of women development will act as secretary of the committee. The matter was adjourned till Jan 20.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2019