New Delhi: Citing the spontaneous outburst of outrage over the brutal gang-rape and death of a woman in Delhi, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has urged the chief justices of all high courts to take immediate steps for prioritising trial in the case of crimes against women.
In a letter addressed to all the chief justices, Chief Justice Kabir asked them to "ensure that cases relating to offences against women are fast-tracked and taken up for hearing on priority basis, both at the high court and district court level."
"The spontaneous outburst of outrage and anger," Chief Justice Kabir's letter said, "is a measure of how the incident has left an indelible mark and shaken the conscience of the nation."
"Rape is not only physical barbarism, but afflicts the very soul of a victim," he said, adding that a large number of cases involving crime against women are pending in various high courts and trial courts and in recent times, there was a marked increase in such cases.
Delay might be one of the factors contributing in the rise of cases of offences against women, Chief Justice Kabir said adding that "on account of such delay, deterrence pales into insignificance".
"Time has come when these cases have to be dealt with expeditiously, lest we should fail in our endeavour to arrest the sharp increase of crimes of violence against women," the letter said.
Urging the chief justices to take steps for setting up fast-track courts to exclusively deal with offences against the women, Chief Justice Kabir asked them to identify the number of requisite posts required to be created at the level of session judges as well as the magistrates along with supporting staff and judicial infrastructure.
Asking the chief justices to take up the matter with the state governments with "promptitude", he said: "I am sure that, judging the present day scenario, the state government/union territory will not decline the genuine demand of the judiciary."
Pointing to one of the five fast-track courts inaugurated by him Jan 2, Chief Justice Kabir said the Delhi government has already taken steps to appoint 150 new judicial officers with 1,085 posts of supporting staff.
He also urged the chief justices to take steps for filling 3,670 vacancies in the subordinate judiciary as well as vacancies in the high courts.
Chief Justice Kabir's letter also said that fast-tracking of matters relating to offences against women would be one of the agenda items of the Chief Justices Conference scheduled for April 5-7, 2013.