New Delhi, Jan. 7: Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir today directed all high courts to immediately set up fast-track courts to deal exclusively with rapes and other crimes against women.
In a letter addressed to high court chief justices, the CJI said that not only the district courts but the high courts too must accord priority to these cases.
Justice Kabir’s move comes within weeks of a two-judge Supreme Court bench (which did not include him) asking all high courts to ensure that all rape trials under their watch are completed within two months.
The letter clarifies how the state chief justices should go about the matter of setting up fast-track courts:
They should calculate the number of sessions judges and magistrates needed to man these courts.
They should then tell the state or Union territory concerned to appoint the required number of judges and support staff and to set up the necessary infrastructure.
While the states and Union territories work to create the infrastructure and fast-track courts, the high courts must immediately set up special fast-track courts with the existing judicial officers.
“I am sure that, judging the present-day scenario, the state government/Union territory will not decline the genuine demand of the judiciary,” the letter adds.
He says the Delhi government has already taken steps to appoint 150 new judges and a support staff of 1,085.
Justice Kabir makes the point that “delay” in conviction may be a factor behind the rise in crimes against women because it dilutes the deterrent power of punishment.
“On account of such delay, deterrence pales into insignificance,” the letter says.
Justice Kabir mentions that the issue is on the agenda of the April 5-7 chief justices’ conference and adds that “I am giving vent to my concern for the helpless victims, awaiting justice”.
He reminds the high court chief justices that a letter he had written on October 16 mentioned the large number of vacancies in high courts and subordinate courts. “It is imperative that concerted efforts be made so that the vacancies are filled up with expedition.”