The Punjab Cabinet has approved the setting up of 20 fast track courts for speedy trials into cases of sexual assaults against women. As recommended by the High Court, it also gave the go ahead for creating 20 additional posts of Superior Judicial Services along with supporting staff.

The Cabinet meeting, which was presided over by the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, on Tuesday, reiterated its commitment to ensure safety and justice by approving a special drive to recruit women for six posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSPs), 36 Inspectors, 415 Sub-inspectors and 400 Constables in the State Police. These women police would be deployed on exclusive duties to control crime against women.

The special recruitment would entail an additional expenditure of Rs.18.04 crore annually to the state exchequer, an official said.

The Cabinet also approved an Ordinance for amending Punjab Lokpal Act, 1996, to allow the appointment of "Up-Lokpal" in the State. It also agreed to convene the Budget session of the State Assembly from March 11 to 28. As per the schedule the session would commence with the Governor’s address, followed by Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, presenting the budgetary estimates for the next fiscal on March 20.

The Cabinet also consented for creating a special fund to check spread of cancer and drug-addiction in the State.

Taking a step towards realising broadband connectivity in the rural areas, the Cabinet gave the green signal for signing an agreement with Department of Telecommunications and Bharat Broadband Network Limited for creation of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN). The project which was a joint effort of the Centre and State governments would connect the villages through optical fibre by utilising existing infrastructure of various public sector undertakings (PSUs) including Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Railtel Corporation of India Limited and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.

The Cabinet also approved to double the monthly assistance to the war veterans and widows from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000, besides enhancing the annual income eligibility conditions of these beneficiaries from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 1,00,000.