Fast Track Courts for Swift Justice in Sexual Offense Cases

Fast Track Courts for Swift Justice in Sexual Offense Cases

News Analysis   /   Fast Track Courts for Swift Justice in Sexual Offense Cases

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Published on: August 29, 2023

Source: PIB

Why is this in discussion?

The performance of the Fast Track Special Courts established under the central sponsored scheme of the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, has been commendable in expediting the trial process related to cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012, which aims to protect children from rape and sexual offenses.

Background:

Introduction:

Fast Track Special Courts are dedicated courts established to ensure swift justice in special cases. Due to the fast-track nature, their case disposal rate/clearance rate is better compared to regular courts.

For the first time, in the year 2000, the 11th Finance Commission recommended the establishment of Fast Track Courts (FTCs) to dispose of or significantly reduce pending cases in district and subordinate courts within the next five years.

After the case of collective rape and murder in December 2012, the central government established the 'Nirbhaya Fund,' amended the Juvenile Justice Act, and established Fast-Track Mahila Courts.

Following this, other states like Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, etc., also established Fast Track Courts for cases of rape.

Fast Track Special Courts Scheme:

In 2019, the government approved a plan to establish 1,023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) across the country to ensure swift disposal of cases related to prolonged rape under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and offenses under the POCSO Act.

This also strengthens the deterrent framework against sexual offenders.

Performance:

By June 2023, FTSCs have successfully disposed of more than 1.74 lakh cases related to rape and offenses under the POCSO Act.

This highlights the significant impact of these special courts in providing swift justice to victims of sexual offenses.

Currently, 763 FTSCs are functional in 29 states and union territories, out of which 412 are designated as specialized POCSO courts.

POCSO Act:

Introduction:

The POCSO Act was implemented on November 14, 2012, as a result of India's ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1992, and was enacted to address offenses against child rights.

The aim of this specific law is to address offenses of child sexual abuse and offenses that were either inadequately defined or inadequately punished under existing laws.

The act defines anyone below 18 years as a child and provides for strict penalties based on the severity of the offense.

Key Features:

Gender-Neutral Nature: The act recognizes that both girls and boys can be victims of sexual abuse, and any non-consensual act regardless of the victim's gender is an offense.

This aligns with the principle that all children have the right to protection from sexual abuse and exploitation, without discrimination based on gender.

Ease of Reporting: Not only individuals but also institutions are now obligated to report cases of child sexual abuse, making it a specific offense under the POCSO Act.

This makes it harder to conceal offenses against children.

Clear Definition of Terms: The act introduces a new offense of storing child pornography and provides a clear definition of the offense of "sexual harassment" which contradicts the vague and minimally penal definition of "outraging the modesty of a woman" in the Indian Penal Code.

Initiatives to Prevent Child Abuse:

Prevention and Investigation Units for Child Abuse

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child)

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016

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