New fast track courts to speed up sexual assault cases

Over 1000 special fast track courts will be set up across the country to conduct a speedy trial of the cases of sexual assault on children and women.

The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry has approved a proposal to set up a total of 1,023 fast track courts at an estimated outlay of Rs 700 crore.

The Ministry will provide Rs 474 crore out of Rs 700 crore required, while the remaining expenditure will have to be borne by the States.

As many as 18 states including Karnataka are on board for implementation of the plan, official sources in the ministry said.

The Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) of the Finance Ministry, which is examining the Ministry's proposal, is expected to give its approval.

The establishment of the special fast track courts for speedy trial of the cases of sexual assault on children and women assumes significance as thousands of cases are lying pending in the courts due to lack of adequate infrastructure.

While the WCD ministry will provide funds for the establishment of the special courts from the Nirbhaya Fund, the Ministry of Law and Justice will monitor the implementation of the project to ensure that they are completed in fiscal 2019-20, sources said.

The Centre had created Nirbhaya Fund in 2013 to provide financial assistance for the projects designed to improve the safety and security of women after the sensational December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a physiotherapy student in Delhi.

With growing incidents of sexual assault on children, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave nod to bring amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 for the award of stricter punishments including death penalty under the Act.

The amendment bill, which will be introduced in Parliament next week, will have an exhaustive definition of the term “child pornography,” which was missing in the amendment bill brought by the government during its previous term. The said bill lapsed with the term of the previous government.

According to the proposed amendments, anyone, who stores or possesses child pornographic material and does not destroy or report it, will be liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000. In case the offence is repeated, the amount of fine would be Rs 10,000.

If anyone tries to transmit, display or distribute the child pornographic material in any manner, except for as evidence in court or to report it, such offences would attract the imprisonment of three years and/or a fine on conviction.

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