Fast track courts have often been mooted as a solution to the extensive delays that plague the functioning of “normal” courts in India. In 2012 a special court to exclusively try cases of child sexual abuse under the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (“POCSO”)” was set up. In 2013, the Karnataka state government set up 10 special fast-track courts in the state only for trying cases of rape and sexual assault against women under Section 376, IPC.
This Report is based on an in-depth analysis of the judgments delivered by these special fast-track courts from the date of their establishment to December 2014 to examine how effective these courts have been in terms of both speeds of disposal and in securing substantive justice.
Fast track courts have often been mooted as a solution to the extensive delays that plague the functioning of “normal” courts in India, particularly in times when there is a real or perceived escalation in crime. During the last couple of years, in the wake of a number of highly publicised cases of sexual assault against women starting with the ‘Nirbhaya’ sexual assault case in December 2012, fast-track courts have increasingly been proposed as the solution for securing justice and deterrence in cases of sexual violence against women.
In the aftermath of the ‘Nirbhaya’ case, state governments across India took the initiative to establish fast-track courts to try cases of sexual violence against women. In September 2014, the Central Government proposed to fund the establishment of about 1,800 fast track courts across India to try cases on specific subject matters, including sexual violence. Further, in the wake of a spate of child sexual abuse cases that hit the headlines in Bangalore late last year, the Chief Minister of Karnataka also proposed to set up more fast-track courts specifically dealing with cases of child sexual abuse. Most recently, prominent judges and lawyers used the opportunity of International Women’s Day on March 8 to reiterate calls for the establishment of additional fast-track courts.