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Fast-track courts going slow, pendency crosses 10L cases | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The pendency of cases in fast-track courts (FTCs) has crossed the 10-lakh mark, as of December, defeating the very purpose of such special courts across the country meant to dispose of long-pending cases of heinous crimes, crimes against elderly, women and children.
Out of a total 4.1 crore cases pending in district and subordinate courts, at least 38 lakh are in trial for more than a decade, including nearly 1.2 lakh cases pending for over 30 years. The FTCs were set up for fast-tracking disposal of long-pending cases, particularly those pending for more than a decade.
The long pendency has not only put a strain on the justice delivery system but has caused additional cost and harassment to poor litigants who are facing unending adjournments for decades. Currently there are 914 FTCs which are in addition to 681 special FTCs, with the latter constituted to dispose of rape cases and those booked under Pocso Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act).
According to information shared by high courts with the Union law ministry, the pendency of FTCs as on 31st December 2021 has crossed 10.8 lakh – the highest in Uttar Pradesh with 7.3 lakh pending cases, followed by Maharashtra (1.3 lakh), Tamil Nadu (97,000), West Bengal (61,000), Telangana (12,000), Assam (10,000), Kerala (7,600) and Andhra Pradesh (6,100).
The disposal rates in FTCs are quite low with total cases disposed of during the pre-Covid period in 2019 being less than 6.5 lakh. During the Covid period in 2020, the total disposal in 914 FTCs dropped to 2.4 lakh and 4 lakh in 2021.
The disposal rates are low in special FTCs with total pendency in them having crossed 1.9 lakh. The 14th Finance Commission had recommended setting up of 1,800 FTCs against which there are 914 functional courts. Similarly, given high pendency of rape and Pocso Act cases, the government had set a target of setting up 1,023 Special FTCs but only 681 are functional as of December, including 381 Pocso courts, despite rising pendency of such cases in several states.
It is not just the delay that has been causing extended harassment of victims of heinous crime but the long pendency has also resulted in a low conviction rate. A study on the conviction rates in cases dealt by special FTCs vis-a-vis regular courts have revealed that “conviction to disposal rate of cases for regular court, special FTCs and Pocso courts are 5.5%, 7.2% and 17.6% respectively”. The study, according to the law ministry, was conducted by the National Productivity Council during the third quarter of 2020.

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