THE LAW Ministry has assessed that there are 1.67 lakh cases of rape and child sexual abuse awaiting trial and has therefore proposed setting up 1,023 fast track special courts to provide speedy justice in two years.
The proposal comes six years after the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was implemented in November 2012. Setting up of special courts was an essential mandate of the POCSO Act under Section 28 (1).
The Law Ministry’s note, moved last December, has sought an annual funding of Rs 767.25 crore to set up the 1,023 courts for two years. These courts would be exclusively used for “speedy disposal” of cases of rape and those under the POCSO Act, says the proposal.
The presiding officer and seven assisting staff members for each courts would be provided by the state government, which would, in consultation with the chief justice of the high court, decide the location and jurisdiction of the courts.
The proposal was moved by the Department of Justice on December 28, the day the Cabinet came down strongly on child sexual abuse and approved amendments to the POCSO Act to include death penalty.
Despite the statutory stipulation in the 2012 POCSO Act that every district should have an exclusive court, the directives have been ignored by the state governments, resulting in huge pendency of such cases.
As per the latest National Crime Records Bureau data, there were 1.33 lakh rape cases and 90,205 POCSO cases pending trial at the end of 2016. The conviction rate in cases which went to trial stood at 25.5 per cent and 29.6 per cent, respectively.
The implementation of the fast track special courts would be monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs, says the proposal.
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