Fifteen years after making its debut, the number of fast-track courts (FTCs) in India has dwindled to 473 against a proposed number of 1,734 after the Centre stopped funding them, law minister Sadananda Gowda said.
The 11th Finance Commission recommended setting up FTCs for a period of five years to speed up the disposal of long-pending cases and reduce pendency in courts. By 2005, 1,562 FTCs were functioning across the country. Later, on the Supreme Court’s direction, the FTCs scheme was extended till 2011. Up to 2010-11, the Centre had released about Rs 870 crore to state governments for these courts.
But after the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, the government decided to continue running the FTCs until March 2015 by providing Rs 80 crore per year to meet the salaries of the additional judges.
Gowda said the 14th Finance Commission has endorsed the proposal to strengthen the judicial system in states by establishing 1,800 FTCs for a period of five years at a cost of Rs 4,144 crore. The commission has urged states to use the additional fiscal space provided by it in the tax devolution to meet such requirements, Gowda added.
The law ministry website says, during the first 11 years of its existence, FTCs have disposed of 32.34 lakh cases, out of 38.90 lakh transferred to these courts leaving 6.56 lakh cases pending for disposal.
Former Delhi high court judge Justice SN Dhingra told HT that FTCs have not helped to bring down pendency of cases as there are no additional appointments to these courts which are manned by judges taken out from the existing set of judges.