The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fast court fate hangs fire

New Delhi, March 27: The fast-track courts, tasked to speed up justice delivery in the country, may disappear by the end of this month as the 12th Finance Commission has not allocated money to the courts.

Sources say the government will file a reply in the Supreme Court in the first week of April informing that these courts have become 'non-operational' beyond March 31.

The apex court is monitoring the 1,690 fast-track courts and had asked the Centre to file its response on whether the courts could be operational beyond March 31.

The courts were constituted with much fanfare in the wake of a huge backlog of over 2.5 crore cases throughout the country.

The infrastructure, the salaries of judges and staff, and the expenditure for running the courts were looked after by the Centre while the states only allotted land for the courts.

The 11th Finance Commission had allocated around Rs 503 crore for the establishment of the courts and out of that corpus only 1,690 such courts were established.

In these courts, of the pending 2.5 crore cases about 12.58 lakh were transferred and the courts disposed of 607,262 cases till December 31, 2004.

If the fast-track courts cease to function from April 1, then the remaining cases will have to be transferred back to the normal courts resulting in further delay in justice, as hearings will have to begin afresh.

Bengal is set to lose its 152 fast-track courts, while in Bihar 183 courts will stop functioning.

Congress MP, E.M. Sudarsana Nachiappan, who is the chairman of the parliamentary committee on law and justice, has written to finance minister P. Chidambaram to intervene immediately.

Interestingly, Nachiappan as a Congress candidate had defeated Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga in 1999, when the finance minister had contested under the Tamil Maanila Congress Jananayaka Pervai. After Chidambaram returned to the Congress, the constituency was given back to him and he won it in the general elections.

Nachiappan said the fast-track courts would have to be closed unless the finance ministry allows them to draw the funds available in the Centre-sponsored pool.

He said the parliamentary committee would press for the continuance of the courts 'given the fact that they have performed well in speedy disposal of pending cases'

The MP said he would convene a meeting on March 30 to find out ways on 'how to make the fast-track courts functional beyond March 31'.

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