Within days of writing to all the Chief Justices of High Courts to set up fast track courts to try cases of crime against women, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has set up a Special Bench of Justices A. K. Patnaik and Ms. Gyan Sudha Misra.

The Bench will begin its hearings this coming Monday. A total of 526 cases relating to rape, dowry and other sexual offences since 2002 have been listed before the Bench which is expected to take up the matters on a day-to-day basis.

According to the circular posted on the Supreme Court website, cases of accused languishing in jails will be given priority and taken up first. The Suryanelli rape case mentioned for early listing has been listed as the 87th item in the serial number out of the 526 cases.

In the circular issued on January 9 the items were categorised as 19 items in the order of priority— part-heard matters if any; death cases; matters relating to sexual harassment, kidnapping and abduction; matters relating to harassment of SC/ST/OBC and women; matters relating to harassment, cruelty to women for dowry, dowry death, eve-teasing, domestic violence etc; prevention of corruption matters; other criminal matters in which accused are in jail; group matters (five onward); three judges’ Bench matters; appeals filed against acquittals; elections matters of Parliament and Assembly constituencies; specially directed and adjourned matters; out-of-job matters; senior citizens’ matters; matrimonial cases; old cases; matters which are to be listed after the disposal of a particular matter, short cases and expedited and ordinary matters in the ratio of 1:2.