Inaugurating the first of the five newly announced fast-track courts set up here to try cases related to sexual offence against women, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said he appreciated people’s anger over rape but warned against letting it overwhelm the due process of law.

“People’s reaction has been that do not send the accused to trial. Hand them over to us, we will deal with them or hang them. But let us not get carried away. A swift trial should not be at the cost of a fair trial,” he told members of the judicial fraternity at the Saket District Court Complex. He added: “Let us not lose sight of the fact that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty”.

Appreciating the government for the fast-track courts, he said: “It is welcome that the government has woken up to the need for courts which would try such cases on a priority basis. The perpetrators of such crimes should be brought to justice as quickly as possible.”

He said that while handling such cases one has to understand the trauma of a rape victim.

“It is not a crime against the body but it is also a crime against the soul,” he said. Justice Kabir said that the gang-rape case could have been averted had the Supreme Court guidelines on tinted glasses in vehicles been strictly imposed. Justice Kabir said the root of the problem of sexual violence against women should be found. “Blame game will not serve anything”, he said. Four more fast-track courts to deal with sexual offences in the other district courts in the Capital would start functioning soon. All existing cases of sexual assault in the respective courts would be assembled there and trial would continue from their next date of hearing.

The trial in all these cases will proceed on a day-to-day basis and adjournments would be for a smaller span such as a day or two. Judicial officers have been identified for the fast-track courts. Meanwhile, Sanjay Kumar, a lawyer representing the Saket District Bar Council, said that 2,500 advocates registered at the court have decided to “stay away” to ensure “speedy justice”, meaning the government will have to appoint lawyers for the defendants.