A week after an eight-year-old girl was gangraped by two men in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district, state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday urged the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to set up ‘fast track higher courts’ or suggest other mechanisms to expedite hearings in rape cases. In a letter to CJI, the chief minister wrote, “As a representative of a large population of this country, I request Justice of India to look into the issues to expedite the hearing of appeals of rape cases by setting up Fast Track Higher Courts or an arrangement in the current hearing system to accord high priority to such cases.”
In his letter to the CJI, Chouhan also wrote, “I personally believe that a girl child is a form of Goddess Durga and therefore, I start my development projects by offering obeisance to the girl child and have utmost respect for women.”
Speaking with media, Chouhan highlighted the fact that Madhya Pradesh was the first state in the country to pass a bill providing death penalty to rape convicts, who committed the offence on girls below the age of 12 years. In support of his plea, Chouhan said, “…In the Indore case, the investigation was completed in seven days and trial in another 22 days. But unless and until appeals are decided by high courts and the apex court expeditiously, justice cannot be said to be done.”
The chief minister said that he wrote the letter as some incidents of rape had aroused a “feeling of distress” in his mind while creating an uproar among the citizens of the nation. The BJP leader was quoted by PTI as saying, “However, stringent penal provisions in law seem to un-deter a few hardcore criminal-minded people, who do not seem to be afraid of getting punished by the system.”
Chouhan, however, added that an accused also has a right to a fair trial, but a speedy trial reduces the psychological sufferings of a rape victim and also sets an example for others.
On June 26, a girl was lured away by two men, while she was waiting for her father from her school outside her school in Mandsaur district. The two accused had taken the victim to a secluded spot on Laxman Darwaja road and allegedly slit her throat after raping her and left the place assuming she was dead. Following the incident, Mandsaur observed a bandh on Thursday while neighbouring Neemuch town remained shut Friday and protests were also held at various parts of the state.
(With PTI inputs)