Incidents of rape and gang rape of minor girls below the age of twelve years and similar heinous crimes against women have shaken the conscience of the entire nation. Therefore, the offences of rape and gang rape of women and children require effective deterrence through fast and time-bound completion of the trial relating to sexual offences.

To bring out more stringent provisions and expeditious trial and disposal of such cases, the Union of India has enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.

The Government has taken up work of setting up of Fast Track Special Courts as a part of National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW). Accordingly, the Central Government has started a scheme for setting up of 1023 Fast Track Special Courts across the country based on the pendency of subject cases obtained from various High Courts (1,66,882 numbers as on 31.03.2018) for time-bound trial and disposal of pending cases related to rape and POCSO Act. Further, in pursuance to the direction of Supreme Court of India in Suo Moto Writ Petition (Criminal) No.01/2019 dated 25.07.2019, out of 1023 Fast Track Special Courts, 389 Courts have been proposed to be set up exclusively for POCSO Act related cases in Districts where pendency of such cases is more than 100.

The Scheme was circulated to all concerned State Governments/ Union Territories Administrations in September, 2019. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Law and Justice has written and appealed to all the Chief Ministers of States for opening these courts and for effective implementation of the Scheme which will act as strong deterrence against such crimes.  

Out of total 31 States and UTs, so far, 24 have joined this scheme (Andhara Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, NCT of Delhi, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, UT of Chandigarh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh) for setting up of 792 numbers of Fast Track Special Courts/ including 354 exclusive POCSO courts. Efforts are constantly being made to obtain consent/willingness of remaining States/UTs.

The Department of Justice in the Government of India is constantly endeavouring to extend requisite assistance to the High Courts and State Governments in setting up of these Courts for prompt trial and disposal of cases to ensure safe and worth living environment especially to women and children in totality. 216 numbers of POCSO courts have already been operationalized in 12 States under the scheme.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.