New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) Why should all cases of sexual abuse against women not be fast-tracked and the victims awarded compensation, the Supreme Court Friday asked the central government following two public interest litigations.
Issuing notice to the central government, the Supreme Court also took up the plea seeking creation of additional courts, improving judicial infrastructure and filling of existing vacancies.
An apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra, however, declined to entertain a plea that sought directions to disqualify members of parliament and state legislatures charged with rape and crimes against women and children.
"Disqualification of elected representative is not our function and we will not issue notice on that," Justice Radhakrishnan said, declining to entertain the prayer.
"Such a sweeping relief can't be sought," the court told senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for the PIL petitioner and former IAS officer Promila Shanker.
However, the signed order that was uploaded on the apex court website later in the evening said that a notice has also been issued on the prayer seeking the disqualification of MPs and legislators who are charged with rape and crimes against women and children.
The court also declined to issue a notice on the prayer for withdrawal of police security provided to people, saying that it "may offend Article 21 of the Constitution" guaranteeing protection of life and personal liberty.
Issuing notice on the remaining prayers, the court said: "We feel that these are fundamental rights of the people which are violated and we will issue the notice."
Earlier, Krishnamani told the court that the prayers in the petition were "very broad" and covered a wide spectrum of issues involving security of women. The other PIL was by Omika Dubey.
Krishnamani told the court that one of the prayers was to direct the government to compile the National Register of Convicted Sex Offenders and other heinous crimes and circulate it to all police departments and enforcement agencies.
As Krishnamani dwelt on the other prayers, the court inquired what were the terms of reference of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee set up in the wake of the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman Dec 16, 2012, in a moving bus.
The court was told that the terms of reference of the Justice Verma Committee involves the review of existing rape laws and the strengthening of the same.
The court asked senior counsel Rakesh Khanna to place before the court terms of reference of the Justice Verma Committee and that of Justice Usha Mehra Commission. Justice Mehra, a retired judge of the Delhi High Court, has asked to probe the gang-rape incident. Khanna had appeared for the central government.
Addressing the plea for direction for setting up fast track court in all States for expeditious trial of rape cases, the court said that "existing courts can't try these cases".
Agreeing on the need for setting up of more courts and augmenting the existing judicial infrastructure, the court said that a lot of vacancies in existing courts were vacant.
On the plea on expeditious investigation into sex abuse cases against women, Justice Misra said: "If a probe suffers from a fundamental error or absurdity, then a trial court could treat it as misconduct (against the officer heading the investigation)."
The notice is returnable in four weeks. The court issued the notice on the petitions that were filed in the wake of the gang-rape and torture of a young woman by six men in a moving bus in Delhi.