NEW DELHI: A little over 1,000 ‘fast-track special courts’ need to be set up across India as part of a new scheme to try cases related to rape of children and women, the Law Ministry has estimated.
These courts are to be set up as part of a larger scheme to strengthen infrastructure for better investigation and swift prosecution in such cases.
The Department of Justice in the Law Ministry has estimated an expenditure of Rs 767.25 to set up these special courts.
The Centre will have to shell out Rs 474 crore as central funding, the department has told the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
“It is estimated that a total of 1,023 FTSCs (fast track special courts) are required to be set up for disposing of rape and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act cases with an estimated expenditure of Rs 767.25 crore out of which Rs 464 crore as central funding on the pattern of centrally sonsored scheme,” said a Law Ministry document.
The details worked out by it have been forwarded to the MHA.
The new scheme is part of an ordinance recently promulgated to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children aged up to 12 years.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Ordinance amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Evidence Act and the POCSO Act.
While bringing out the ordinance, the government had decided to frame a scheme to set up an “appropriate” number of fast-track courts to try rape cases in the states.
The scheme will include components, including strengthening of the physical infrastructure and prosecution machinery, provision of the required number of judicial officers for lower courts, additional posts of public prosecutors, dedicated investigators and special forensic kits.
A senior government functionary said as many as 524 fast-track courts are already functional in the country to try cases related to women, SCs and STs, the marginalised and senior citizens.
Quoting a written response of Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Parliament in March 2017, the functionary pointed out that of the 524 fast track courts, 100 are in Maharashtra, 83 in Uttar Pradesh, 39 in Tamil Nadu, 38 in Andhra Pradesh and 34 in Telangana.
The special fast-track courts proposed now as part of the ordinance would specifically deal with rape and child rape cases, the functionary said.
In April, the government had issued an ordinance to provide stringent punishment, including death, for those convicted of raping minors up to the age of 12 years, amid a nationwide outrage over cases of sexual assault and the murder of minors in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Gujarat’s Surat, and the rape of a girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
New fast-track courts will be set up to deal with such cases and special forensic kits for rape cases will be given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, according to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance.
It stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years. The death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years. The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial.
The time limit for the investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed and has to be now completed within two months. The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months, officials said.
A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
New posts of public prosecutors will be created and special forensic kits for rape cases given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, the officials said.
Dedicated manpower will be provided for investigation of rape cases in a time-bound manner.
Special forensic labs exclusively for rape cases would also come up in each state.