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Prelims Syllabus : Polity & Governance- Judiciary Mains Syllabus : GS-II- Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary

Why in News?

  • India will soon have 1,023 new fast-track special courts for speedy trial of over 1.66 lakh pending cases of crime against women and children. The proposal has been sent by the Union government, which estimates that each of these special courts is likely to dispose of at least 165 such cases per year.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to set up special courts in each district across the country that have over a 100 cases of child abuse and sexual assault pending trial under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Jurisdiction of The Court:

  • According to the Department of Justice under Union Law Ministry, out of the 1,023 fast-track special courts (FTSCs), 389 courts, according to a Supreme Court direction, will exclusively handle cases registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.The remaining 634 FTSCs will deal with either rape or both rape and POCSO Act cases depending upon the pendency and requirement. It is expected that each fast-track special court will dispose 41-42 cases each quarter.

Key Facts About the Pendency:

  • According to official data with the Department of Justice, a total of 1,66,882 cases of rape and those under POCSO Act are pending trial in various courts in the country.
  • There are 389 districts in the country where the number of pending cases under the POCSO Act exceeds 100.Therefore, as per the apex court directives, each such district will have one exclusive POCSO court, which will try no other cases, the note said.

Need for Special Courts:

  • Present Slow pace of action on protection of children from sexual predators. As per available data, number of victims compensated under Pocso were 3% in 2015, 4% in 2016 and 5% in 2017. Around 1.5 lakh cases are pending trial before 670 designated courts.
  • Though the Act mandates trial to be completed in one year, the deadline is impossible to achieve as each designated trial judge is saddled with a few hundred cases in addition to the trial of other cases.

Guidelines by The SC for Setting up of Special Courts:

  1. 1.Funding: Such courts will be funded by the central government. The fund will not only take care of the appointment of the presiding officer but also appointments of support persons, special public prosecutors, court staff and infrastructure, including creation of child-friendly environment and vulnerable witness court rooms.
  2. 2.Awareness: WCD ministry shall facilitate screening of “short clips intended to spread awareness of the subject in general, namely, prevention of child abuse and prosecution of crimes against children, in every movie hall and could also be transmitted by various television channels at regular intervals.
  3. 3.A Child Helpline Number should also be displayed in such clips and at schools and other public places.

 

 

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