For sexual offences, fast-track courts are really not so fast!

Interestingly, regular courts last year decided over 500 such cases compared to fast-track courts, according to statistics from Delhi courts.

New Delhi: Trials in fast-track courts are running at a snail`s pace compared to last year. Six fast-track courts in Delhi, designated for speedy disposal of sexual offences cases, have disposed of only around 400 cases till the end of November. At least 1,090 sexual offence cases are still pending.

Interestingly, regular courts last year decided over 500 such cases compared to fast-track courts, according to statistics from Delhi courts.

Data from September 2013 shows that 1,090 sexual offence cases are still pending in various courts here, whereas as of October 2012, a total of 963 rape cases had not met legal conclusion till then.

The slow pace of disposal of pending cases has increased the burden on trial courts.

After the Dec 16 gang-rape that sparked nationwide outrage, senior advocate Rekha Aggarwal had told a news agency that "more and more women are coming forward to register such cases".

As per data provided by the Crime Branch, the city recorded 1,036 rape cases from Jan 1 to Aug 15, 2013.

However, the spurt in such cases has led to work overload for the six fast-track courts set up in January this year after the chorus for effective legal process against rapists grew louder.

Rajiv Khosla, advocate and ex-officio member of the Delhi Bar Association, said the fast-track courts dealing with rape and sexual offences are providing fair and speedy trial.

However, because of day-to-day trials the fast-track court judges are reeling under pressure, he added.

"The courts are suffering from staff crunch. The number of public prosecutors is too less and they have to deal with various cases at one go," Khosla told the agency, raising the demand for more fast-track courts.

Court statistics reveal that the disposal rate of rape cases was higher when regular courts decided such cases.

Ironically, in 2012, over 500 cases were disposed of by regular courts while around 700 and 650 were decided in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Senior advocate HS Phoolka, however, said that sometimes trials in sexual offence cases become lengthy as courts fail to put pressure on the prosecution and defence to expedite the trial.

"In some cases, the accused also has the intention to delay the trial so that they can put pressure on the complainant and settle the matter," he told the agency.

On the other hand, advocate Aggarwal is of the view that every new beginning needs some time and this theory applies in the case of fast-track courts also.

"Give them time and fast-track courts will be able to reduce the number of pending cases," she said.

Going by the data of fast-track courts in the city, the Dwarka fast-track court has disposed of 120 cases this year. Next to it is the Karkardooma fast-track court which has concluded 86 cases.

Two fast-track courts at Tis Hazari Courts Complex dealing with sexual offence cases have completed legal proceedings in 116 cases.

The fast-track court in Saket presided over by Judge Yogesh Khanna, who gave the death sentence to four Dec 16 gang-rape convicts, disposed of 39 cases till September.

The fast-track court in Rohini has concluded 40 cases this year.

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