Coming up: 7 fast-track courts for rape cases, 3 for sex offences against kids in Punjab

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During the Cabinet meeting in Chandigarh, Thursday. Express

The Punjab government Thursday gave its nod to set up seven fast-track courts for speedy trial in rape cases. Three special courts for the adjudication of sexual offences against children and 10 family courts will also be set up in the state. The decisions were taken during Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh here.

At least 70 posts, including 7 of additional and district sessions judge, along with 63 supporting staff, have been approved by the Cabinet for the seven fast-track courts. Four of these courts will be set up in Ludhiana and one each in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ferozepur. The courts would entail an approximate annual expenditure of Rs 3.57 crore.

“The courts will be effectively implementing the provisions of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 to deal with the pending rape cases expeditiously. They will bring down the pendency of such cases, thereby facilitating adherence to the two-month timeline for conclusion of the trial in rape cases,” as per an official statement.

As per the amendment carried out in Section 173 of CrPC in 2018, trial of rape cases is to be concluded within two months. In another decision, the cabinet approved the creation of 45 posts - three each of Additional District Judges and Deputy District Attorneys and 39 supporting staff - for these courts.for setting up three special courts for offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act at an approximate expenditure of Rs 2.57 crore per year.

In addition to the amendment in Section 173 of the CrPc in 2018, the Supreme Court had desired that state governments should set up exclusive courts for rape cases against children, where the pendency of such case is more than 100.

At present, the pendency of rape cases against children in Ludhiana is 206 and 125 in Jalandhar. Accordingly, the cabinet approved the establishment of two special courts in Ludhiana and one in Jalandhar to exclusively try rape cases against children.

The 10 family courts will come up in as many districts at an annual expenditure of Rs 5.55 crore. The Cabinet has approved the creation of 90 posts for these courts, to be headed by a district judge or additional and district sessions judge, along with eight supporting staff members.

At present, Punjab has family courts in 12 districts. The new ones will be set up in the remaining 10 districts of Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Kapurthal, Mansa, Roop Nagar, Sangrur, Sri Muktsar Sahib, SAS Nagar and Tarn Taran.

Family courts deal with matrimonial issues, including the decree of nullity of marriage, restitution of conjugal rights, dissolution of marriage, property of the parties to the marriage, legitimacy of children and proceedings of maintenance.