New Delhi, VIRENDER KHAGTA
Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has directed all High Courts and trial courts in the country to fast-track cases of crime against women as the “time has come” for expeditious disposal of these cases “on a priority basis”.
Describing rape as a “physical barbarism” that affected the “very soul” of the victim, the CJI in a letter to all HC Chief Justices said all efforts to check violence against women would go waste unless such cases were fast-tracked.
“Delay may be one of the factors contributing to the rise in the number of such cases, inasmuch as, on account of such delay deterrence pales into insignificance. Time has come when these cases have to be dealt with expeditiously, lest we should fail in our endeavour to arrest the sharp increase in crime against women,” the CJI said.
He termed the recent gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi “tragic and brutal” and said the “spontaneous outburst of outrage and anger is a measure of how the incident has left an indelible mark and shaken the conscience of the nation”.
“I am giving vent to my concern for the helpless victims awaiting justice,” the CJI said pointing out that a large number of such cases were pending in various High Courts and trial courts and that “there is a marked increase” in their numbers in “recent times”.
Steps to fast-track these cases would be discussed at the Chief Justices’ conference to be held from April 5 to 7, he said. Notwithstanding this, such steps should be taken “immediately” to set up fast-track courts (FTCs) to deal exclusively with cases of offences against women.
The CJI asked the CJs to identify the number of posts required to be created at the level of Sessions Judges as well as magistrates and then take up the issue with the state governments.
Pending this, the CJs should set up FTCs making use of the existing judicial officers without any delay. Pointing out that the High Courts and subordinate courts had a large number of vacancies, the CJI said in the January-5 letter that “it is imperative that concerted efforts be made so that the vacancies are filled with expedition”