A day after Delhi Police registered an FIR against Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal for disclosing the name of a 14-year-old rape victim, a war of words broke out between the commission and its former chairperson Barkha Shukla Singh.
Singh, chief of the Delhi Congress women’s wing, had served as the DCW chief for eight years before Maliwal was appointed to head the commission by the AAP government last year.
In a letter to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, Singh alleged that the DCW, under Maliwal, had committed financial irregularities. Singh claimed the budgetary allocation for the commission had been inreased from Rs 3.75 crore to Rs 7 crore “to accommodate members and volunteers of AAP at higher salaries”.
The Congress leader claimed that AAP volunteers, including Maliwal’s media advisor Bhupinder Singh, were being paid salaries between Rs 70,000 and Rs one lakh a month.
Attacking Maliwal for disclosing the name of the rape victim, Singh said she was “unable to understand if it was ignorance or insensitivity” that led Maliwal to “violate Supreme Court’s orders”.
She also claimed that while the DCW had scaled “great heights” during her tenure, it had been reduced to a mere “post office” under Maliwal.
Singh claimed that complainants in cases of sexual harassment were asked “inappropriate questions by the male staff recruited by Maliwal”. She urged Jung to dismiss and dissolve the “incompetent and insensitive” commission under the current DCW chief.
Responding to her allegations, the DCW said in a statement: “All allegations made by Ms Barkha Singh are utterly false, baseless and laughable to say the least. Ms Barkha Singh was the chairperson of the DCW for eight years. It is extremely sad that during her entire tenure of eight years, she did only one case. The present chairperson, on the other hand, has done over 400 cases in the last one
“The said complaint (filed by Singh) also mentions the fact that the budget has been increased for the Commission. The budget has been increased considering that the 181 helpline has been transferred to the Commission. Also, the Commission has started 22 mobile rescue vans which work 24X7… the Commission has also improved its Rape Crisis Cell by hiring 22 lawyers to represent victims in rape cases in courts in Delhi….,” said the DCW.
“Delhi knows that since Ms Barkha Singh was also an MLA of Congress party and a spokesperson of Congress Party even during her tenure in the Commission, she greatly politicised issues. The present chairperson, on the other hand, is neither a member nor affiliated to any party,” it said.
The Commission also said Singh should be investigated for allegedly misusing DCW’s office as well as public funds.