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Performance of the Fast Track Special Court

  • 29 Aug 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Fast Track Courts, Justice in Sexual Offense Cases, Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012, Indian Penal Code (IPC), UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992.

For Mains: Fast Track Courts for Justice in Sexual Offense Cases.

Source: PIB

What are the Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs)? 

  • Background (Scheme for Fast Track Courts): 
    • Fast track courts (FTCs) were first recommended by the Eleventh Finance Commission in 2000 "to substantially bring down, if not eliminate, pendency in the district and subordinate courts over the next five years". 
      • Following the report, the Centre created 1,734 additional courts in different states for a period of five years. In 2011, the central government stopped funding fast-track courts. 
    • Following the December 2012 Gangrape and murder case, the Union Government set up a 'Nirbhaya Fund', amended the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and set up fast-track Mahila Courts (a Special Court). 
      • Some other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar etc. also set up FTCs for rape cases thereafter. 
  • About  Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs): 
    • FTSCs are dedicated courts expected to ensure swift dispensation of justice. They have a better clearance rate as compared to the regular courts and hold speedy trials. 
      • In 2019, the government approved a scheme for setting up 1,023 FTSCs across the country for expeditious disposal of pending rape cases under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and crimes under the POCSO Act. 
      • It also strengthens the deterrence framework for sexual offenders. 
  • Performance: 
    • As of June 2023, the FTSCs have successfully disposed of more than 1.74 lakh cases related to rape and POCSO Act.  
      • This reflects the significant impact of these specialized courts in providing speedy justice to the victims of sexual offences. 
    • 763 FTSCs are currently functional across 29 States and Union Territories.  
      • Among these, 412 courts are exclusive POCSO Courts.  

What are the Challenges Related to Fast Track Special Court? 

  • Inadequate Infrastructure and Low Disposal Rate:  
    • Special courts in India often suffer from the same challenges as regular courts, as they are usually designated rather than established as new infrastructure. 
    • This leads to overburdened judges who are assigned other categories of cases in addition to their existing workload without the necessary support staff or infrastructure.  
    • Consequently, the disposal rate of cases in these special courts slows down. 
      • According to data from the Ministry of Law and Justice till May 2023, Delhi's FTSCs have a disposal rate of only 19%, which is one of the lowest in the country. 
  • Limited Jurisdiction:  
    • These courts are established with a specific jurisdiction, which can limit their ability to deal with related cases. This can lead to delays in justice delivery and a lack of consistency in the application of laws. 
      • Ideally, cases in these special courts should be disposed of within a year. However, as of May 2023, Delhi had only disposed of 1,049 cases out of a total of 4,369 pending cases. This indicates a significant lag in meeting the target. 
  • Vacancies and Lack of Training:  
    • The lack of judges due to vacancies affects the courts' capacity to handle cases effectively.  
      • As of 2022, lower courts across India had a vacancy rate of 23%. 
    • Regular judges from normal courts are often deputed to work in FTSCs.  
    • However, these courts require judges with specialized training to handle cases quickly and effectively. 
  • Prioritization of Certain Offences Over Others:  
    • The establishment of special courts in India is often determined by ad-hoc decisions made by both the judicial and executive branches of government. 
    • This approach means that certain categories of offences are arbitrarily prioritised for faster disposal over others. 

Way Forward 

  • Adequate infrastructure, including courtrooms, support staff, and modern technology, should be provided to FTSCs to ensure smooth and efficient operations. 
  • Additional funding should be allocated for the establishment and maintenance of these specialized courts. 
  • To enhance the disposal rate, FTSCs should focus on strict case management, reducing unnecessary delays caused by adjournments, and ensuring the timely presentation of evidence. 
  • Specialized training for judges and support staff can help streamline procedures and enhance the speed of proceedings. 
  • Efforts should be made to fill vacancies promptly and ensure that judges with relevant expertise are assigned to these courts. 

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Mains

Q.1 Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation. (2016)

Q.2 We are witnessing increasing instances of sexual violence against women in the country. Despite existing legal provisions against it, the number of such incidences is on the rise. Suggest Some innovative measures to tackle this menace. (2014)

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