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Law minister plans to clear backlog in 1 year with fast-track courts

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.

Dec 07, 2019, 11.02 AM IST
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Agencies
Ravishankar-Prasad
The law ministry has now drawn up a comprehensive plan to fast track disposal of pending rape and Pocso Act cases within a year.
(This story originally appeared in on Dec 07, 2019)
NEW DELHI: 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 fast-track 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 across the country. 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 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 in various courts in the country,” 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 directive from the Supreme Court.

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 Act, notified in 2012, provides for special courts for trial of cases of crimes against children to protect minors and prevent them from being victimised again by courts which have to deal with long pendency of other cases. A Pocso Act court has provision for in-camera trial in a child-friendly environment without revealing the identity of children.

The government informed Lok Sabha on Friday that 218 FTCs to be set up in UP for expeditious disposal of cases.
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