Union Cabinet approves extension of fast-track special courts scheme for 3 years
Fast-track courts, which were first introduced in 2000, began to receive renewed government support in the wake of the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the extension of fast-track special courts (FTSCs), set up to provide timely justice to victims of sexual offences, for three more years, with financial implications over Rs.1,952 crore.
“Initially commenced in October 2019 for one year, the scheme was extended for two years until 31.03.2023. Now, it has been further extended until 31.03.2026, with a financial outlay of Rs.1,952.23 crore, with the central share funded from the Nirbhaya Fund,” an official statement read.
Fast-track courts, which were first introduced in 2000, began to receive renewed government support in the wake of the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case. After the passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2018, the Centre set up 1,023 FTSCs, 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.
Though the centrally sponsored scheme, under which these courts operated, ended on March 31, 2023, the Union ministry of law & justice sought permission and funds from the Cabinet to extend it by three years.
The Centre claims that the scheme reflects the nation’s commitment to ending sexual and gender-based violence and that its expected outcomes include a reduction of pending rape and POCSO cases and their burden on the judicial system and swift access to justice for victims of sexual crimes through improved facilities and expedited trials. According to the government, 30 states and Union Territories have participated in the scheme and operationalised 761 FTSCs, which have resolved over 1.95 lakh cases and helped “provide timely justice to victims of sexual offences, even in remote and far-flung areas.”
In March 2023, former Union law minister Kiren Rijiju said that he was “not very satisfied” with the present performance of fast-track special courts, particularly in certain states which he declined to name.
The extension of the scheme is also likely to apply to 790 FTCSs rather than 1,023, though this has not been officially confirmed.
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