The Union Government of India approved the continuation of Fast-track Special Courts to make sure faster delivery of justice to victims of sexual offenses, as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for another two years. The proposal has been accepted for the continuation of 1023 fast-track special courts. These include 389 exclusive POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Courts to expedite trials and provide immediate relief to minor girls who are victims of sexual crimes. The Fast Track Court mechanism strengthens the deterrence framework for sexual offenders.FTSCs are dedicated courts expected to ensure swift dispensation of justice. Fast track courts (FTCs) were first recommended by the Eleventh Finance Commission in 2000. In 2011, the central government stopped funding fast-track courts. Following the December 2012 gang rape and murder, the Union Government set up a 'Nirbhaya Fund', amended the Juvenile Justice Act, and set up fast-track Mahila Courts. In 2019, the government approved a scheme for setting up 1,023 fast-track special courts (FTSCs) across the country for expeditious disposal of pending rape cases under the Indian legal code (IPC) and crimes under the POCSO Act. In 2018, the govt of India amended the criminal laws to provide more stringent punishments to the rape accused in the cases where the rape victims are minors.
1) The amendment declared a death sentence as the punishment for the accused where the victim is below 12 years of age.
2) captivity was the punishment if the victim was below 16 years aged.
There were many issues-
* Expeditious justice and a good trial are a neighborhood of the elemental rights of a citizen. Due to the high pendency of cases in the courts, it takes too long for justice to be delivered.
* As per the timelines prescribed, cases under the jurisdiction of POCSO courts are required to be solved within 60 days which is additionally not the case actually.
* The lawyers are also to be blamed for the delayed hearing of the cases too as they seek frequent and unnecessary adjournments.
* Delay thanks to the absence of witnesses were seen together of the most reasons for adjournments
* Currently, 20% of the posts in the lower judiciary at the district and magistrate level are still vacant.
The very purpose of FTSCs can be fulfilled only with the effective coordination of High Courts and State Governments. Every accused person has the right to try to prove himself/herself innocent till the last court; from district level court to the Supreme Court. The judicial system has to ensure that in the haste to provide justice to the victim, it does not deny justice to the accused too. There is a need to have witness protection laws. The FTSCs must have dedicated judges so that cases can be heard on a regular basis. There must be sufficient judges with proper knowledge of their field/jurisdiction. The legal process is in need of strengthening. The same trial procedure for a normal court and a special court will create no difference and will further increase the pendency of more and more cases. Without compromising with a fair trial, an easier process and mechanism can be laid down for the special courts. The sexual crimes in the rural and backward sectors often go unreported. The lack of delivery of justice is even worse in rural and tribal areas. Society has to be made more empathetic towards women. The other ways of sensitizing society include introducing sex education classes in the schools in rural areas and government schools. Sensitization on the part of the lawyers and police is also required.
Time-bound justice to victims of sexual offenses is one of the major concerns regarding justice delivery in our country. The government has to ensure that the common man seeking justice does not have to run pillars to poles. This type of fast-track mechanism has the potential to reduce the chances of such kind of situation but requires effective implementation. The timely and effective implementation of laws is important to make a deterrent effect. The effect isn't likely to be created if there's an outsized pendency of cases and it takes years for justice to be delivered.