By Furkan Ahmed
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Delhi High Court, before the Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup J Bhambhani on April 17, 2019 seeking directions to the Delhi government to make the fast track court as permanent scheme replacing the current status of ad hoc scheme.
Acting on the plea, the Court issued notice to the respondents—Registrar of Delhi High Court and Delhi government. The context of the present petition goes back to a judgement of Brij Mohan Lal v. Union of India, (2012) 6 SCC 502, delivered in the Supreme Court wherein the Court asked the Delhi government to either wind up the Fast Track Court scheme or make it permanent. However, the Delhi government since after the judgment, has been extending the Fast Track Court scheme year after year as on ad hoc basis neglecting the order of the apex court.
The Historical background of the Fast Track Court could be traced back to 11th Finance Commission which guided the Union Government to sanction all the states a total sum of 502.90 Crores as “special problem and upgradation grant” to set up 1734 Fast Track Courts to deal with already pendency of 2.2 crores cases overall in the country for a period of five years. The scheme lapsed on March 31, 2005. However, in a meeting with all chief ministers held at Vigyan Bhawan in 2005 at Delhi; it was decided that the scheme to be continued for a further period of five years till Mar 31, 2011 and accordingly, the budget would be sanctioned by the Union of India. The Union of India after the lapse of scheme of Fast Track Court on March 31, 2011 stopped the funding to the Fast Track Courts as the previously declared before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in its judgement in the matter of Brij Mohan Lal v. Union of India, (2012) 6 SCC 502 gave the direction to Delhi government to either scrap the Fast Track Court scheme or make them permanent. However, the Delhi Government since then, has been extending the scheme on ad hoc basis over year after year. The Registrar of Delhi High Court has written several letters to the Delhi Government asking them to make the status of Fast Track Court as permanent but no action has been taken by the Government. Due to non-compliance of the direction of Supreme Court in Brij Mohan Lal along with the huge amount of the lag in dealing with the pending cases led petitioner to file this petition.
The Petitioner taking the arithmetical support of the existing data available on the E-court websites put the argument in his favour. The data reveals that there is shortage of 201 judges in Delhi Judiciary Services and 16 judges in the Delhi Higher Judiciary Services. A total number of approximately 9 lakh cases are pending in the various Delhi District Courts. The data also went on to support that Per Judge Pendency of cases stands to 2279 in Delhi Judiciary Services while Delhi Higher Judiciary has 723. Though, the ideal Per Judge Pendency should be 500 cases as according to a report given by a panel of three Chief Justices in 2004. Further, the petitioner provided a data of average monthly institution and Average Monthly Disposal of cases, the average monthly disposal is 53007 against the admitted and instituted case of 59853. These data are speaking the current status of Delhi Judiciary which is moving slow and the current rate of disposal would keep on creating the pile of cases over the period of time.
The Petitioner finally presented a data on crimes against women which has been a matter of great concern in a city like Delhi from last couple of years. The Petitioner presented the data of crime against women wherein he showed that there are 6000 cases of POCSO and 3000 cases of rape are pending. Delhi Government kept on reiterating the point of providing the fast track courts for trial on crime against women. The recent amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 adds “an offence under sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of the Indian Penal Code shall be completed within two months”. Without intervention of the Fast Track Courts, the task of fulfilling the provision of Crpc sounds more like a mammoth task.
Speedy trial has always been an issue which the apex court has reiterated to be given priority by the state. One of the judgement by Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Fakkir Mohammed Ibrahim Kalifulla mentioned: “We issue directions in light of the provisions contained in section 231 (evidence for prosecution) read along with section 309 (power to postpone or adjourn proceedings) of CrPC for the trial court to strictly adhere to the procedure prescribed therein, in order to ensure speedy trial of cases.” It further reads “And also rule out the possibility of any maneuvering taking place by granting undue long adjournments for mere asking”.
The next hearing of the matter is May 17, 2019.