New Delhi, Dec 14: They were meant to speedily dispose of cases relating to sexual offences but slow-paced trials continue for the second consecutive year in the so-called fast-track courts - the reverse of what was happening before they were set up.
The six fast-track courts were set up in January 2013 after a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist was brutally gang-raped on a moving bus here on Dec 16, 2012. Around 400 cases concluded in the fast-track courts till the end of November, similar to that till November 2013. But some 1,080 cases are still pending.
Ironically, in 2012, over 500 cases were disposed of by regular courts while around 700 and 650 cases were decided in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Court statistics reveal that the disposal rate of rape cases was higher when regular courts decided such cases.
Terming the concept of fast-track courts a "farce" retired Delhi High court judge Justice S.N. Dhingra opined that instead of establishing fast track courts, it is better to issue directions to regular courts for trying such cases on a priority basis.
"Every case has to undergo similar procedures. Just expedite the trial in the regular courts and the figures will be different," Dhingra told IANS.
He, however, added that six courts are not enough to try all sexual offence cases in Delhi.
"Even if a trial is conducted on a daily basis, a judge can dispose of only three to four cases in a month," Dhingra said.
Advocate Shilpi Jain, who represented a German tourist in the 2006 Alwar rape case, one of the quickest such trials that finished within 15 days, said that fast track courts can only be fast by following legal procedures effectively.
"The court should not entertain any unwarranted plea of lawyers seeking adjournments. Direction should be issued to police to file the charge-sheet within 15 days of the incident as rape cases are totally based on direct evidence," Jain told IANS.
She added that the victim's version and the medical examination report proving sexual assault are enough to prove a rape case in a trial.
A public prosecutor dealing with sexual offences cases, however, said the low disposal rate is due to a shortage of prosecutors and judges, who are "overburdened with work".
After the Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape that sparked nationwide outrage, legal eagles have claimed that "more and more women are coming forward to register such cases".
Recent data of Delhi Police reveals that there has been a record 35 percent rise in rape cases, with 1,794 being reported so far this year against 1,330 last year.
This rise has increased the work of prosecutors as well as the six fast track courts that have been set up.
A public prosecutor told IANS that neither are prosecutors given adequate facilities nor are they adequately paid.
As a prosecutor has to look after over 100 cases, they cannot effectively concentrate on each case due to lack of facilities, he added.
Going by the data of the city's fast-track, the one in Dwarka has disposed of around 120 cases this year. This is followed by the court in Saket presided over by judge Yogesh Khanna - who sentenced the four convicts in the Dec 16 gang-rape - which has disposed of 70 cases.
Two fast-track courts in the Tis Hazari courts complex have completed proceedings in 69 and 53 cases respectively.
The fast-track courts in Rohini and Karkardooma have concluded 33 and 61 cases respectively this year.