Amid clamour for speeding up cases of crimes against women, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi along with other Chief Ministers batted for setting up fast-track courts and sought central assistance, which was discontinued a few years ago.
Several Chief Ministers also said they had discontinued fast-track courts (FTC), which had disposed of significant number of cases, after the central assistance was withdrawn two years back.
They were speaking at a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir.
“I request the Union government to rethink the reestablishment of the system of FTCs and increase the financial allocation for the same,” Mr. Modi said while seeking revivals of such courts.
He said Gujarat had initiated 166 FTCs which had disposed of nearly four lakh cases.
Observing that policies concerning the judicial system should be envisaged with a long-term perspective, Mr. Modi attacked the Centre for not waiting for the “fruits“ of the FTC system to be “delivered”.
“Such short term vision and frequent changes in policy create a lack of faith in the system,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in his speech read in absentia said after the Centre withdrew assistance for FTCs, the state government did not think it appropriate to re-establish them.
Mr. Yadav said while the state was willing to set up special courts to try cases related to murder, rape and issues related to children and the elderly, it had limited resources to support them.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said 83 FTCs were functioning in his state with central assistance. Despite the Centre withdrawing funds for the scheme, 43 FTCs were run till November, 2012 to dispose of pending cases with expenses being borne by the state government.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda welcomed the recent suggestion of the Centre that FTCs be provided funds from the 13th Finance Commission.
In the wake of gang rape in Delhi, the Law Ministry is pushing for early setting up of fast track courts across the country to try such heinous crimes and civil cases having human dimension and is ready to bear majority of the financial burden involved.
Law Minister Ashwani Kumar has written to the Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Courts to set up such courts.
Till 2005, there were up to 1500 fast track courts in the country but the system of setting these up was discontinued after states expressed difficulty in bearing the financial load of 50 per cent involved.
To overcome this, the Centre has now agreed to share the majority of financial burden, which could be up to 75 per cent and even 90 per cent in the case of north-eastern states.
To help the process of setting up fast-track courts, the Union Cabinet had recently decided to increase the strength of the subordinate judiciary by 10 per cent.
It would mean adding 1800 subordinate officers over and above the existing strength throughout the country.
While 13 Chief Ministers attended the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts, most states were represented by their Law Ministers and officials.
The conference was organised by the Law Ministry after a gap of four years.