Law Min Plans To Clear Backlog In 1 Year With Fast-Track Courts
In a grim reminder that children continue to face the brunt of sexual depravity, more than 96% of the 1,66,882 pending rape trials are ones registered under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.
The law ministry has now drawn up a comprehensive plan to fast track disposal of pending rape and Pocso Act cases within a year. “The scheme envisages targeted disposal of 1,66,882 cases of rape and those under Pocso Act, which includes 1,60,989 cases of Pocso Act (as per data collected from high courts as of June 2019), within one year,” the law ministry has said.
The government is also likely to propose a similar fasttrack courts (FTCs) scheme under the 15th Finance Commission (2020-2025).
The combined data for rape and Pocso Act cases are of March 31, 2018, and those of only Pocso Act cases are of June 2019, both supplied by the HCs, having a time lag of a little over a year. However, the current status of the number of Pocso Act and other rape cases is unlikely to be too different from the available data set.
The law ministry has set a target of one year, spread over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, to complete trial of these pending cases by setting up 1,023 FTCs. The government has asked each HC and state government to convey their “desire to on-board the scheme” by December 31. Many states are already running FTCs for trial of the Pocso Act cases.
“Pocso Act also mandates that investigation in the cases is to be completed in two months (from the date of registration of FIR) and trial in six months. However, despite a strong law and policy framework, a large number of rape and Pocso Act cases are pending,” the ministry said. It, however, did not mention how long these cases have been pending.
The ministry, which has received data on all pending rape and Pocso Act cases from HCs, said there were 389 districts where the number of pending cases under Pocso Act exceeded 100. The government has issued directives to set up a Pocso Act fast-track court in each of these districts, which is also in compliance of a similar Supreme Court directive.
The department of justice in the law ministry will monitor these trials on a quarterly basis and each of these FTCs will be connected to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), which updates status of all cases on a daily basis, including their disposal.
“Data will be collected from quarterly reports submitted by high courts and the NJDG database by the department of justice. It will analyse the data and draw a comparative analysis of performance of FTCs to identify good practices and performance,” the ministry said.
Pocso convicts should not get option of mercy plea, says Prez
Geetha Sunil Pillai TNN
The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, on Friday said the law should be amended to deny the final recourse of filing a mercy petition to convicts sentenced to death under the Pocso Act.
“Convicts have a right given by the Constitution to file mercy petitions against the death penalty. However, I feel convicts under this (Pocso) Act do not need to be given the right of mercy,’’ he said at a conference on women’s empowerment in Mount Abu. “I have suggested to Parliament to review and deprive such convicts of the right to file mercy pleas. Everything depends on Parliament, because there is a need to make amendments to the Constitution,” he added.
His remarks came on a day when the four suspects in the rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad were killed in an “encounter” by the police. Kovind said a lot of work had been done, but a lot more remained to make women feel secure.
Over 200 fast-track courts in UP soon
The government informed Lok Sabha on Friday that 218 fast-track special courts are to be set up in UP for expeditious disposal of cases of rape and sexual assault offences against children. In a written reply, women and child development minister Smriti Irani said, “A scheme for setting up of a total of 1023 FTSCs for expeditious trial and disposal of rape cases and cases under Pocso Act has been formulated by law ministry. The estimated cost is Rs. 767.25 crore, out of which Centre’s share is Rs. 474 crore.” TNN