In the backdrop of the December 16, 2012 gang rape in Delhi, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has directed the Chief Justices of all High Courts to urgently set up fast track courts to deal exclusively with offences against women.

In a January 5 letter, a copy of which was released on Monday, Justice Kabir impressed upon the Chief Justices the need to fast-track such cases in the High Courts and district courts.

The spontaneous outburst of outrage against the brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a young physiotherapy student “is a measure of how the incident has left an indelible mark [on] and shaken the conscience of the nation. Rape is not only physical barbarism but [it also] afflicts the very soul of a victim.”

Justice Kabir said: “A large number of cases are pending in various High Courts and trial courts in respect of offences against women, and in recent times, there is a marked increase [in the number] of such cases. Delay may be one of the factors contributing to the rise in the number of such cases, in as much as, on account of such delay deterrence pales into significance. Time has come for these cases to be dealt with expeditiously, lest we fail in our endeavour to arrest the sharp increase in crimes… against women.”

Justice Kabir said though the issue would be on the agenda of the Chief Justices’ conference to be held from April 5 to 7, “I am giving vent to my concern for the helpless victims, awaiting justice.”

He pointed out that he had inaugurated one of the five fast track courts at Saket in New Delhi on January 2. The Delhi government had taken steps to appoint 150 judicial officers with a support staff of 1,085.

Justice Kabir asked the Chief Justices to identify the number of posts required to be created at the level of sessions judges and magistrates and take up the matter with the respective State governments/Union territories immediately. He wanted them to increase not only the number of posts of judicial officers but also of support staff and infrastructure. “Meanwhile, you may take a decision to set up fast track courts to be manned by the existing judicial officers so that they become functional without any delay. I am sure that judging the present day scenario, the State government/Union territory will not decline the genuine demand of the judiciary.”

The CJI said: “I may also draw your attention to the ‘policy and action plan’ of the National Court Management Systems which I had sent to you with my letter, dated October 16, 2012, for settling policies.” In that letter, he pointed out the large number of vacancies in subordinate courts and High Courts (3,670). “It is imperative that concerted efforts be made so that the vacancies are filled with expedition.”

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