State’s lack of funds, overburdened lower court delay justice to victims

Rising crime against women and children in M’laya

SHILLONG: The State Government’s inability to provide funds to start fast track courts has resulted in the slow disposal of cases related to crime against women and children which have piled up in various courts in the State.
An official source admitted on Thursday that after the Centre had in the past stopped funding the fast track courts, the State Government has not taken any keen interest to start the same courts.
The source said after the Centre discontinued the scheme of fast track courts, it was left to the respective states to set up these courts.
From March 31, 2015, the fast track courts set up in Shillong, Tura, Jowai and the Special Court established in Nongstoin headed by retired Judges stopped functioning.
Since the State government did not have funds, the matter was not followed up till date.
Sources, however, pointed out the irony of the government spending huge amount of money on festivals at a time when slow conviction and tardy disposal of cases have become the order of the day.
Sources added that delay in speedy delivery of justice has now become the concern only of the affected victims and their relatives and not of the government.
The appointment of a special judge to try the rape cases from 2013 had paid the dividend in Nongstoin as almost all the 52 rape cases were charge sheeted and the accused were given jail terms. However, the special court has not been functioning since April 2015.
With crime against women and children on the rise, there is a fresh demand for setting up of fast track courts.
Burden of POCSO Judge
Currently, the District and Sessions Judge, who is overburdened, is functioning as the Special Judge (POCSO).
An official said the judge is overburdened not only with the number of pending POCSO cases, but he has to discharge other duties too.
He also functions as Special Judge CID, CBI, Motor Vehicles Accidents Tribunal,          Consumer Court, Vigilance Court, NDPS and others.
Besides functioning as the additional deputy commissioner, he being a district judge also has to deal with both criminal and civil cases.
Over 100 cases under POCSO are pending for trial with the Judge.
In this context, setting up of fast track courts and special courts to deal exclusively with crime against women and children will unburden the District and Sessions Judge.
Special Courts
In the last part of 2013, the State Government was prompt enough to set up a Special Court to try ILP-related cases, but sources said the same enthusiasm was not shown by the Government to set up a Special Court in East Khasi Hills to try various crimes, especially rape against women and children.
Though there was a plan to set up a Special Court for women and children since last year, there was delay in getting data from various courts in the State regarding the number of pending cases.
An official source said the Law Department will shortly send the proposal of the Government to the High Court of Meghalaya for setting up of special courts. But the High Court will reopen only by end of January after the winter vacation.

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