It has been five years since Nirbhaya gang rape stirred the nation, following which the victim’s mother demanded creation of fast-track courts and a law to hang juveniles in heinous crimes. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the state governments vide his letter dated April 23, 2015 to allocate funds for this activity, it is shocking that at present there is not a single fast-track court functional in the state.On the contrary the 83 functional fast-track courts in the year 2005 have been reduced to zero now.A total of 83 FTCs were approved in the year 2000, following the report of the 11th Finance Commission. Out of these, all were functional till 2011, the year when this experimental scheme was supposed to end. The central government in 2005, decided to continue its support for the next 6 years (till 2011).This is also the year when the central government stopped financial support to the FTCs, after that the states were supposed to continue FTCs with expenses met from their own funds. The 14th Finance Commission has also endorsed the proposal of establishing 1,800 FTCs for a period of five years for cases of heinous crimes; cases involving senior citizens, women, children, disabled and litigants affected with HIV AIDS and other terminal ailments and civil disputes involving land acquisition and property/rent disputes pending for more than five years at a cost of Rs 4,144 crore. The 14th finance commission has allocated 214 crore rupees to Rajasthan government for the establishment of fast track court.Pendency of casesAccording to government data till December 2016, more than 14 lakh cases are pending across all the courts in the state. As per an estimate close to 2/3rd of these cases are more than 3-years old and more than 2/3rd of these cases are pending in the district & sub-ordinate courts. ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’ is used whenever there is an undue delay in disposal of cases.Prime Minister’s appealThe Prime Minister vide his letter dated 23rd April 2015 urged the state governments to allocate funds for the activities mentioned in the 14th FC recommendations from their state budget from 2015-16 onwards. This issue was also discussed in the CM/CJ Conference on the 05th April 2015 and 24th April 2016, wherein it was resolved to strengthen the existing coordination and monitoring mechanism between the state government and the Judiciary for effective implementation of the recommendations of the 14th FC. The Minister of Law and Justice has further urged all the Chief Ministers of the States and the Chief Justices of the High Courts to implement the resolution of the Conference vide letters dated 03rd June 2015, 26th September 2016 and 2nd May 2017 respectively.Supreme Court’s takeIn its judgment in the Brij Mohan Lal case, the Supreme Court has endorsed the position of the Central Government and held that the continuation of FTCs is within the domain of the states with their own funds.Purpose of fast-track courtsFast track courts are meant to expeditiously clear the colossal scale of pendency in the district and subordinate courts under a time-bound programme. A laudable objective of the five-year experimental scheme is to take up sessions and other cases involving undertrials on top priority.

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Fast courts off track?