Not very satisfied with present performance of fast track special courts: Rijiju
New Delhi, Mar 2, 2023
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said he was "not very satisfied" with the present performance of fast track special courts set up in various parts of the country, and pitched for strengthening investigation agencies and forensic labs for overall effectiveness of such courts.
He said this in his address at a conference hosted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) here, without naming anyone or any state, adding that chief justice of some of the high courts and chief ministers of some states "must do much more".
The Fast Track Special Courts (FTSC) scheme is being looked after by the Department of Justice.
"I have to ensure that whatever legislative actions are taken, are taken down to the ground," the minister said.
"This is a centrally-sponsored scheme and it was started initially for one year in 2019 which has been extended, and further extension of the scheme is under process. I can give my assurance that we will take it forward," he said.
In his address, Rijiju also shared data on FTSCs and said, "Based on the pendency of cases in March 2018, a total of 1,023 fast track special courts, including 389 exclusive POCSO courts, were earmarked by the Department of Justice to be implemented in 31 states/UTs for early disposal of cases related to rape and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act."
Out of the 1,023 FTSCs with 389 exclusive POCSO courts to be set up under the scheme, 769 FTSCs, including 418 exclusive POCSO courts, have been so far set up in 28 states/UTs which have disposed more than 1,37,000 cases, he added.
Addressing the national conference on ‘Child Sexual Abuse Material' at Vigyan Bhawan here, the law minister said one has to go "beyond legal provisions" and the society must come together to ensure safety of women and children.
He mentioned that recently, he had written to all the chief justices of high courts and chief ministers that we need to do much on these fast track special courts.
The heinous incidents of rape and gang rape of minor girls below the age of 12 and similar crimes against women shook the conscience which led to changes in various provisions, he said.
The Union minister said, "I am not going into the details of those provisions and the steps, but I must mention that personally I am not very satisfied with the present performance of the fast track special courts instituted in various parts of our country,"
In the coming conference on chief justices and chief ministers, "I will ensure that there is a session dedicated on this matter", he said.
"... Because judiciary and the government must come together, and we have to raise the level of our efforts," he said.
"Some of the states, I do not want to name any, I have mentioned particularly that we are not happy with the performance of those high courts and state governments. The chief justice of those particular high courts and chief ministers of those states must do much more," he said.
Rijiju inaugurated the conference on Thursday in the presence of NHRC chairperson Justice (retd) Arun Kumar Mishra and rights panel members, besides senior officers of the ministries concerned, legal experts, academicians, and scholars.
The aim of the two-day conference is to derive recommendations for policy makers and content hosts, including social media platforms and law enforcement agencies among others, after deliberations to advocate a safe cyberspace for children.
State governments will have to take head-on these challenges, Rijiju said and asserted that "central and state governments will have to work as a team".
"For the overall effectiveness of the fast track special courts and to enhance disposal and conviction rates, states and their respective high courts need to ensure that the mandates and timelines under the CrPc Act and POCSO Act are adhered to, and investigation agencies and forensic labs should be strengthened," he said.
Judiciary and the executive must come together to make India not only a progressive society, but also a safe society for children and women, the minister said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tells all departments that children and women are their priorities and their safety "reigns supreme", he said.
Addressing the issue of sexual abuse of children must be a "priority for every citizen" and not just of government agencies and other organisations, the law minister said.
The government will work hand-in-hand with the Commission, he assured.
[Press Trust of India]