BHUBANESWAR: In order to ensure speedy disposal of sexual crimes against women and children, Odisha Government on Tuesday decided to set up 45 fast track courts in the State.
The move comes after Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the States and the Chief Justices of High Courts to expedite investigation in cases of rape and those registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Responding to Prasad’s announcement that 1,023 new fast track courts will be constituted to try POCSO cases, rape and other crimes against women, Law Minister Pratap Jena said 45 such courts would be opened in Odisha.
“The process for opening fast track courts has been initiated on a war-footing. Of 45 fast track courts, 24 special courts will deal with cases related to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences and 21 courts will handle only rape cases,” he said.
The special fast track courts are being set up at Angul, Khurda, Balasore, Baripada, Bhadrak, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Berhampur, Nayagarh, Phulbani, Puri, Jharsuguda, Bhawanipatna, Jeypore, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Balangir, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Sundargarh.
The fast track courts will function under Additional District Judges as per provisions of Orissa Civil Courts Act, 1984. “Once set up, the courts that deal with only rape incidents will expeditiously dispose of long pending cases in the Sessions Courts,” Jena said.
The State has more than 15.65 lakh pending cases, including crimes against women. While 1,50,938 cases are pending in Orissa High Court, 14,14,745 are pending in lower courts till October 31. Shockingly, 3,796 cases are under trial for over 20 years and 21,659 cases are pending for 10 to 20 years.
Even as the cases are pending due to shortage of judges in different courts, the conviction rate also remains a major cause of concern. Of the sanctioned strength of 27, posts of 14 judges are lying vacant in Orissa High Court, followed by 25 posts of district judges, 34 senior civil judges and 89 civil judges in the State.
As per the annual crime data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently, 94.7 per cent cases related to crime against women are pending at hearing stage.
The State has reported 1,149 rape cases, including 604 involving minors between January and June this year. While 2,502 rape cases were registered in 2018, conviction rate in the year stood at 18.35 per cent.