IN NEWS Fast Track Courts
- The brutal gangrape and murder of Delhi braveheart has shaken the conscience of the nation, said Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir while asking all High Courts to set up fast-track courts to deal exclusively with offences against women.
- The delay in disposing such cases might be one of the factors for rise in crimes against women, said CJI Kabir in a letter to all the chief justices of High Courts, and added that the time has come to deal expeditiously with such cases.
- You may take a decision to set up fast-track courts to be manned by existing judicial officers so that they become functional without any delay. I am sure that, judging by the present day scenario, the state governments will not decline the genuine demand of judiciary,” said the CJI in his one-page letter.
Background of Fast Track Courts
- Fast Track Courts was a novel experiment aimed at clearing the massive backlog in court cases began in the country with the setting up ‘fast track’ courts in various states.
- The Eleventh Finance Commission recommended a scheme for creation of 1734 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) in the country for disposal of long pending Sessions and other cases. The Ministry of Finance sanctioned an amount of Rs. 502.90 crores as “special problem and upgradation grant” for judicial administration. The scheme was for a period of 5 years. The Finance Commission Division (FCD), Ministry of Finance released funds directly to the state Governments under the scheme of Fast Track Courts.
- It was the primary responsibility of the State Governments to establish these courts in consultation with the concerned High Courts.
- The FTCs were established to expeditiously dispose of long pending cases in the Sessions Courts and long pending cases of undertrial prisoners.
- The term of scheme on the Fast Track Courts which were recommended by the Eleventh Finance Commission ended on 31st march, 2005.
- The Supreme Court, which was monitoring the functioning of Fast Track Courts through the case of Brij Mohan Lal V/s Union Of India observed that the scheme of Fast Track Courts should not be disbanded all of a sudden and in its order dated 31st march, 2005, directed the Union of India to continue the Fast Track Courts.
- The Government accorded its approval for the continuation of 1562 Fast Track Courts that were operational as on 31.3.2005 for a further period of 5 years i.e. up to 31st March, 2010 with a provision of Rs. 509 crores. The Department of Justice monitored the scheme.
- The Central assistance under the above said scheme is limited to an approved norm i.e. Rs. 4.80 lakh per court per annum (recurring) and Rs. 8.60 lakh (non-recurring). Any expenditure incurred by the State in excess as recurring and /or non-recurring expenditure had to be borne by the State Government.
- Year-wise funds released by Department of Justice is indicated below:
|2007-08||Rs. 57.2 crore|
|2008-09||Rs. 54.56 crore|
|2009-10||Rs. 56.13 crore|
|2010-11||Rs. 73.16 crore|
- 32.34 lakh cases had been disposed off by these courts, out of 38.90 lakh.
- The scheme of central assistance for Fast Track Courts was extended for a period of one year i.e. upto 31.3.2011. It was decided that there will be no central funding for Fast Track Courts beyond 31-03-2011.
Judges in Fast Track Courts
- The scheme envisaged the appointment of ad hoc judges from among retired sessions/additional sessions judges, judges promoted on ad hoc basis and posted in these courts or from among members of the Bar. Selection of judges was done by the High Courts. The Centre had directed the State Governments that consequential vacancies resulting from ad hoc promotion of judges be filled through a special drive. This is called for in order that further pendency is not created in existing courts of magistrates and civil judges.
- As per the Centre’s action plan, the fast track courts will be required to dispose of 14 sessions trial cases and/or 20 to 25 criminal/civil cases every month. The State Governments and High Courts had been requested to make effective arrangement for representation on behalf of the prosecution and to ensure quick process service.
- Keeping in view the overall grant of the Finance Commission, a sum of Rs. 29 lakh had been earmarked for each additional court. The major portion of the amount is to be spent on salaries of judicial officers and other staff (a peshkar or superintendent and a peon).