In a move to ensure expeditious dispensation of justice in sexual offence cases, the Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of fast track special courts for an additional three years.
Following the enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2018, prompted by the Nirbhaya gangrape case in Delhi, the Centre initiated the establishment of 1,023 fast-track special courts. Among these, 389 were dedicated exclusively to handling cases related to violations of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, spanning 31 states and Union territories.
Initially launched on Gandhi Jayanti in 2019 for a one-year period, the scheme was later extended for an additional two years until March 31 of this year. However, despite the Centre's efforts, only 754 out of the 1,023 courts were reported as operational, with several states assuring their commitment to establishing such courts but not fully operationalizing them.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet granted approval for a three-year extension to the scheme, with a financial implication of Rs 1952.23 crore. The central share, funded from the Nirbhaya Fund, amounts to Rs 1207.24 crore, while the states are set to contribute Rs 744.99 crore.
"Thirty states and union territories have participated in the scheme, operationalising 761 fast-track special courts, including 414 exclusive POCSO courts, which have resolved over 1,95,000 cases," the statement said.
Each fast-track special court was conceived to try between 65 and 165 cases per annum. The annual expenditure to run one such court was pegged at Rs 75 lakh with one judicial officer and seven support staff, officials noted.