The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for continuing the fast-track special courts (FTSCs) for another three years for delivering swift justice in cases involving sexual offences.
754 fast-track special courts in India
The Centre had decided to set up 1,023 fast-track special courts, including 389 to deal exclusively with cases related to violations of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, in 31 states and Union territories after the Nirbhaya gangrape case. The government had made the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2018 to keep handle matters related to sexual offences.
The scheme for forming fast-track special courts was launched on Gandhi Jayanti in 2019 for one year. However, the project was later extended for an additional two years until March 31 this year.
According to the government reports that say despite the Centre's efforts, only 754 of the 1,023 courts were operational. Several states assured the Centre to set up such courts but the fact is that they did not meet their words.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet gave its nod to extend the scheme by three more years, with financial implication of Rs 1952.23 crore. While the Central share will be Rs 1207.24 crore, the states will contribute Rs 744.99 crore. The central share is to be allocated from the Nirbhaya Fund.
"Thirty states and union territories have participated in the scheme, operationalising 761 fast-track special courts, including 414 exclusive POCSO courts, which have resolved over 1,95,000 cases," the statement said.
Officials noted that Puducherry made a special request to be included in the scheme and has since operationalised one exclusive POCSO court in May 2023.
Each fast-track special court was conceived to try between 65 and 165 cases per annum. The annual expenditure to run one such court was pegged at Rs 75 lakh with one judicial officer and seven support staff, officials noted.
According to additional details shared by the government later, fast-track courts, which are different from fast-track special courts, were set up for dealing with cases of heinous crimes; cases involving senior citizens, women and children.
(With PTI inputs)