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RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- SEXUAL CRIME: FAST-TRACKING JUSTICE

RSTV


Introduction:

The Union Cabinet approved the continuation of over 1000 Fast Track Special Courts to ensure faster delivery of justice to victims of sexual offences, as a centrally sponsored scheme for another two years. These include 389 exclusive POCSO courts to expedite trials and provide immediate relief to minor girls who are victims of sexual crimes. The continuation of the scheme, which was started on October 2, 2019, involves a total outlay of more than Rs 1,572 crore. Rs 971 crore is provided by the Centre from the Nirbhaya Fund, the remaining amount is expected to be provided by states. Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju called it a major step towards de-clogging the justice system. The government says besides providing quick justice to the hapless victims, the Fast Track Court mechanism strengthens the deterrence framework for sexual offenders

Scheme:

  • Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) are being setup as a part of the National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW).
  • The scheme was started in October 2019.
  • Implemented by the Department of Justice of the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • It is a Centrally sponsored scheme for expeditious trial and disposal of pending cases of rape and offences against children under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012.
  • The decision on extension of the scheme beyond one year will depend on the recommendations in the external evaluation.
  • The scheme does not intend to create any permanent infrastructure. The courts will be made functional in suitable premises taken on lease or as decided by the States/UTs and respective High Courts.
  • Composition: Each FTSC will have one Judicial Officer and seven staff members. States/UTs may engage judicial officers and court staff on contractual basis where sufficient manpower is not available. Services of retired judicial officers with relevant experience may also be engaged to dispose of cases in the FTSCs.
  • The scheme includes 389 FTSCs exclusively for POCSO
  • Each FTSC is expected to dispose of 41-42 cases in each quarter and at least 165 cases in a year.
  • At the time the scheme was launched, the government had set a target of disposing of 1,66,882 cases of rape and POCSO Act cases pending trial in various courts.
  • So far, only 597 fast track courts out of the total 1,023 had been set up in the country and expressed its concern at the delay in implementing the scheme.

Why is it that despite stringent laws in place, there are so many cases?

  • The Indian constitution has safeguarded every person before he or she is punished by the means of fair trial which has led to pendency of cases.
  • 2006 survey reveals that 88% children of the total surveyed have been abused by their parents which is not revealed.
  • Society is changing fast, exposure and too much interaction leads to gap in understanding each other which may inturn lead to crime by close mates.

Challenges:

  • Lack of social awareness among the masses.
  • Children find it difficult to understand many advertisements and campaigns related to abuses.
  • There is advancement of law but it appears that it has no impact because the number of cases is multiplying.
  • Problem with implementation of the law.
  • Child protection committees not in place at village level.
  • Politicization of rape cases on communal grounds.
  • Many of us donot know about POSCO act.
  • The rate of conviction under the POSCO act is only 32% as that of past 5 years and pendency is 90%.
  • Absence of proper training at village level leads to child abuse.
  • Judges donot use the power to announce medical interim compensations to the victims.
  • In a 2017 report, “Everyone Blames Me,” Human Rights Watch found that survivors (of the crime), particularly among marginalized communities, still find it difficult to register police complaints.
  • Every case desires media attention equally and not only Unnao and Kathua rape cases.

Way Forward:

  • Massive awareness should be created among the masses about child’s dignity and about the law in place.
  • POSCO Act needs to be part of school syllabus.
  • Along with fast track courts, proper infrastructure and judges capacity should be looked upon.
  • Need of ground level work.
  • Speedy delivery of justice.
  • Proper police training and a dedicated children cell at stations as that of a women cell.
  • Need of accountability at each and every level.
  • Many Indians – men and women – refuse to believe that sexual violence is a serious problem eating away at India’s vitals. It is essential to recognise that the crisis lies in the precise manner in which the existing criminal justice system unfolds.
  • Instant medical relief and compensations should be provided to the victim.
  • Children should be given a platform and proper environment to speak against such abuse.
  • Check on technology.
  • Strict action must be taken against the police officer found guilty of obstructing the probe or colluding with perpetrators of such cases.
  • Providing sex education to children, which is neglected in India. This makes them more aware of various protective laws, good touch-bad touch et

 Conclusion:

Society itself will have to take the responsibility of giving it the right direction. Without this, we cannot achieve all the promise that we had as a nation at the time of Independence. We must collectively rise to the occasion and create a safe India for our children.