Delhi Fast Track Special Courts Struggle to Meet Disposal Targets for Child Sexual Offence Cases

Delhi's Fast Track Special Courts have failed to meet their targeted disposal rates for child sexual offense cases, raising concerns about delays in justice delivery.

History of FTSCs

Almost four-and-a-half years after the establishment of Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) across India to exclusively handle sexual offenses against children, the special courts in Delhi are struggling to meet their annual disposal targets. With 16 FTSCs in the Capital, data from the Department of Justice's website reveals that only 1,551 cases have been disposed of since October 2019, leaving another 3,834 cases pending disposal.

The need for stricter laws to prevent crimes against women and children led to the introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. By March 2018, a staggering 1,66,882 cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act were pending in various courts nationwide. In response to the mounting cases, the Supreme Court issued directives in July 2019, calling for the establishment of special courts in districts with over 100 POCSO Act cases registered. These courts were mandated to exclusively hear POCSO-related cases.

The Reader's Guide

To adhere to the Supreme Court's mandate, the Centre launched the FTSCs in August 2019, with each court expected to dispose of a minimum of 165 cases annually. As of March 2024, a total of 753 FTSCs, including 409 exclusive POCSO Courts, are operational in 30 States and Union Territories, having disposed of 2,29,361 cases thus far.

Falling Short of Targets

Despite a total of 2,523 cases of rape and various offenses under the POCSO Act being registered in Delhi in 2018, the establishment of 16 FTSCs has not managed to keep up with the increasing caseload. The number of pending cases has surged to 3,834, with each FTSC in Delhi disposing of an average of only 24 cases per year, significantly lower than the national average.

A research paper by the India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) shed light on the situation, estimating that each FTSC in the country disposes of an average of 57 cases annually, showcasing a notable gap in meeting the set disposal targets. Practicing criminal lawyer Akshay Shokeen highlighted delays in obtaining Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) reports as a significant factor contributing to the high pendency rate in rape and POCSO cases.

An evaluation report by the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) on the functioning of FTSCs nationwide revealed that only 34% of the courts were able to meet their prescribed targets. Visits to FTSCs in different areas of Delhi unveiled various challenges, including courts being overburdened with too many cases, delays in victim appearances, and a shortage of special public prosecutors in certain districts.

The IIPA report recommended the appointment of more judges to aid in the quick disposal of cases and emphasized the importance of assigning a manageable number of cases to each FTSC to ensure efficient justice delivery.

Fateh Muhammad

Hey, I'm Fateh Muhammad, a Lahore local with a passion for arts and politics. My journey led me through the halls of the National College of Arts, where I delved into the intricacies of both disciplines. Now calling Lahore home, I'm here to share my insights and perspectives on the dynamic intersection of art and politics. Let's embark on this enlightening journey together! Connect With Me .