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Speedy trial in heinous cases: CJI
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
In a departure from the age-old saying that the wheels of justice turn slow, but grind exceedingly fine, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir today made it clear that the wheels will rotate fast and still do the job effectively in cases of heinous crimes. Fast-tracking of such cases will not slow down trial in other cases, he asserted.

In Chandigarh for the fourth Leiden-Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition, Chief Justice Kabir indicated that new infrastructure and additional manpower will be provided to fast-track courts and will act as extra wheels to add rapidity to cases of heinous crimes, as they move forward on the “expressway to justice”.

Putting cases on fast track essentially means setting up new courts and recruiting additional manpower, instead of burdening the existing setup, Chief Justice Kabir said.

“Additional courts will be set up and presiding officers appointed,” he said. His assertion comes at a time, when apprehensions are being expressed that fast-tracking of heinous crime cases may affect the progress of other matters pending adjudication before courts due to limited infrastructure and manpower.

The statement comes at a time when the need to fast-track rape cases is being felt urgently, especially in the wake of the Delhi incident. Already, the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri, has issued orders to designate 11 courts in Haryana and eight in Punjab as fast-track courts for speedy trial of heinous crimes against women.

The number of pending rape cases could be astounding, considering the fact that 680 rape cases were registered in Punjab last year. In December 2012 alone, 78 cases were registered. The situation was worse than 2011, when 479 rape cases were registered. In 2011, Haryana recorded 733 cases of rape. The state has 578 cases, out of 733 reported, under trial at different courts. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says the conviction rate has failed to touch even 50 per cent in both Punjab and Haryana.

Chief Justice Kabir said the judiciary was still the last refuge for citizens. “Till today, the judiciary is given full credence. Though there has been some criticism of the functioning of judges, it is uncalled for. A common man can still rely on the judiciary; and it’s this image we have to nurture and maintain. We have to live up to the principles,” Chief Justice Kabir added.

The moot court competition was organised by the Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation. Its president-cum-former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Justice SS Sodhi, Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and senior advocate ML Sarin were present during the competition. Tribune trustee Lt Gen SS Mehta (retd) was also present during the inaugural function.

Justice Kabir’s observations

  • Fast-tracking of heinous crime cases will not slow down trial in other cases
  • Putting cases on fast track means setting up new courts and recruiting additional manpower, instead of burdening existing setup.





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