SC: Make fast-track courts permanent or scrap them

The Supreme Court directed the Central and state governments to stop operating fast-track courts on adhoc basis.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:April 20, 2012 12:17 am

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Central and state governments to stop operating fast-track courts on adhoc basis. Either set up these courts permanently or not at all,it said.

The Fast-Track Court (FTC) scheme had hit a roadblock after the Centre decided not to finance them beyond March 31,2011. Since then,these courts have been stumbling along,with retired judges often appointed to run them on ad hoc basis. “It is directed that all states,henceforth,shall not take a decision to continue the FTC Scheme on ad hoc and temporary basis. The states are at liberty to decide but only… to bring FTC scheme to an end or to continue it as a permanent feature,” the court said.

The bench of Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar refused to strike down the Centre’s 2011 policy decision but made it clear that operating these courts on ad hoc basis would not,in any way,help “improve the justice delivery system and fortify the independence of judiciary,while ensuring attainment of constitutional goals”.

Invoking its absolute powers under Article 142 of the Constitution,the Supreme Court issued a series of directions to the Centre and the states on the setting up these courts,appointing judges to them and funding them.

Only the Union or the state cabinet is the final authority to implement the decisions made at the Chief Justices and Chief Ministers’ conference on FTC scheme,the court said. “No decision,recommendation or proposal made by the Chief Justices and Chief Ministers Conference shall be rejected or declined or varied at any bureaucratic level,in the hierarchy of the governments,whether in the state or the Centre,” it added.

Judges to fast-track courts,it directed will be chosen by the High Courts concerned. They will then be interviewed by the Chief Justice and four senior most judges of the High Court.

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