In its bid to devise an effective mechanism to curb corruption, the prime minister’s office (PMO) has directed the law ministry to ask the states and high courts to take immediate steps to make the 71 special CBI courts functional.
In a recent communication to the ministry, the PMO has said it has been more than a year since the announcement to set up 71 special fast track courts to try cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation was made."Of the 71 special CBI courts announced, it was planned to set up 51 courts, but so far only eight have been set up. The matter needs to be followed up on an urgent basis," the PMO wrote to the government’s legal arm.
“It has been noticed that these courts have not been able to become functional mainly because of the non-appointment of magistrates/judges,” the PMO noted. “The Centre wants to monitor the cases of corruption pending in courts, especially in high courts. So that these can be decided within a definite time period,” said a senior government official.
The need to fast-track corruption cases was first raised the Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the party’s plenary session at Delhi last December.
Following this, a nine-member group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was set up last month included the fast-tracking of all corruption cases in its set of recommendations for the cabinet.
Following the PMO move, law minister M Veerappa Moily has written to chief justices of all the 21 high courts, drawing their attention to the pending cases of corruption.
“While dealing with pendency, high priority should be accorded to cases of corruption. As you are already aware we have decided to set-up special CBI courts, the process to make them functional needs to be expedited,” Moily wrote.
The law minister stated that he was seeking the help of the judiciary in tackling corruption.
“I would seek to benefit from your views on whether the number of courts are adequate and what further needs to be done immediately to ensure time bound decisions in such cases.”
According to the CBI, the number of pending cases investigated by it currently stands at 9927. The country’s premier investigating agency, in its performance report of 2010, has put the number of special courts exclusively for it at 64.
“The Centre has sanctioned 71 new special courts for the CBI cases in different states along with the support staff. It is expected that the increasing pendency of undertrial cases will be substantially reduced once these courts become functional,” states the CBI performance report for 2010.