The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the continuation of 1,023 fast track special courts, including 389 exclusive POCSO courts, as a centrally sponsored scheme for another two years.
Responding to a question during a Cabinet briefing, Union minister Anurag Thakur said out of 31 states and union territories, 28 have started the scheme.
West Bengal is one of the states which has not started the scheme, he pointed out, adding ''We are hopeful they will start it soon." The scheme would continue from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2023, with an outlay of Rs 1572.86 crore -- Rs 971.70 crore as central share and Rs 601.16 crore as state share," an official statement said.
The central share is to be funded from the 'Nirbhaya' Fund.
The scheme was launched on October 2, 2019.
"Incidents of rape of minor girls below the age of twelve years and women below the age of sixteen years have shaken the conscience of the entire nation. The occurrence of such incidents and prolonged trials had necessitated the creating of dedicated court machinery which could expedite the trial and provide immediate relief to the victims of sexual offenses," the statement observed.
To bring more stringent provisions and expeditious trial and disposal of such cases, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was enacted which made provision of stringent punishment, including death penalty, for perpetrators of rape, it said.
This led to the establishment of the fast track special courts.
These are dedicated courts expected to ensure swift dispensation of justice.
They have a better clearance rate as compared to the regular courts and hold speedy trials. Besides providing quick justice to the victims, it strengthens the deterrence framework for sexual offenders.
Currently covering 28 states, it is proposed to be expanded to cover all 31 states which are eligible to join the scheme, the statement said.