There are 757 Fast Track Special Courts functional across the country, 5 in Meghalaya

New Delhi, February 09: Pursuant to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018, the Central Government is implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for setting up of Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) including exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts since October, 2019 for expeditious trial and disposal of pending cases pertaining to Rape and Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in a time-bound manner.

The scheme was initially for one year, which was further extended up to March, 2023. The Union Cabinet has extended the Scheme for another three years, from 01.04.2023 to 31.03.2026, at a total outlay of Rs. 1952.23 cr. including Rs. 1207.24 cr. as Central Share to be incurred from Nirbhaya Fund.

As per data submitted by various High Courts, up to December 2023, 757 FTSCs including 411 exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts are functional in 30 States, UTs across the country which have disposed of more than 2,14,000 cases. State-wise details of the number of functional Fast Track Special Courts along with the number of cases disposed of as on 31.12.2023.

Setting up Fast Track Special Courts demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the Government towards women security, combating sexual and gender-based violence, reducing the backlog of pending cases related to Rape & POCSO Act, and providing expeditious access to justice for survivors of sexual crimes.

With professional and experienced judges and support staff specialized in handling sensitive sexual offense cases, these courts ensure consistent and expert-guided legal proceedings offering victims of sexual offences swift resolutions in mitigating the trauma and distress, and enabling them to move forward.

Fast Track Special Courts have notably adopted the approach of setting up Vulnerable Witness Deposition Centres within the courts to facilitate the victims and to make the courts into Child-friendly Courts for providing crucial support for a compassionate legal system. These courts have disposed of more than 2,14,000 cases as of December 31, 2023.

As per the information provided by the High Courts on the FTSCs dashboard, a total of 81,471 cases were newly instituted from January, 2023 to December, 2023, while 76,319 cases have been disposed of during the period, resulting in a disposal rate of 93.6%.

The State and UT-wise disposal of Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) since the inception of the Scheme. A third-party evaluation of the Scheme was carried out by Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) in the year 2023 which has inter-alia recommended for continuation of the scheme. The recommendations given by IIPA, are as under:

IIPA strongly recommended the continuation of this scheme as its primary objective is to handle cases of sexual offences against women and children through a streamlined and expedited judicial process.

To expedite trials, States and High Courts must strengthen parameters, including appointing Special Judges experienced in POCSO cases, ensuring sensitization training, and appointing female public prosecutors.

The courtrooms need to be upgraded with modern technology, such as audio and video recording systems and LCD projectors. To be at par with the current evolving technologies, the court could enhance IT systems including electronic case filing and digitalization of court records.

Forensic Labs to increase and to train manpower to expedite the pending cases in courts and ensure timely submission of DNA Reports. It will not only help the skilled manpower to assist the scientist and reporting officers but moreover will help to give a fair and speedy justice.

Vulnerable Witness Deposition Centers (VWDCs) should be established in all districts to facilitate a better process of recording victim testimonies, thereby initiating a smoother court proceeding. The States should take initiative to conduct the trial in a way that is child-friendly, behind closed doors without disclosing the child’s identity.

Further, every FTSC should have a child psychologist to assist the child with rigorous pre-trial and trial procedures.In Meghalaya there are 5 FTSCs including e-POCSO and till date and the  Cumulative Disposal since the inception of the Scheme are 382 cases.



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