Looking at the pendency of 393 rape cases in Punjab and 324 in Haryana for disposal over an year, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed that all these cases, including Chandigarh, shall be brought to finality within six months.
Justice Ranjit Singh observed that the effective mechanism of putting cases of crime against women on fast track has already been put in place by the high court on administrative side with elaborate directions to the sessions courts. But, not prescribing any time limit for completing the trial in such cases might not improve the speed of trial, which is aim and desire, the bench said.
The court has also issued directions to all the sessions judges of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for sending monthly progress report by 10th of each month positively to the high court in such cases.
The judgment reads, "…each sessions judge is required to inform this court every month the FIR No., date, police station, name of the parties and section in which the trial is in progress, date of presentation of challan, date of framing of charge and the present state of proceedings." Not only this, the sessions judges are also required to disclose the details of number of prosecution witnesses examined or to be examined during the month and the stage of such heinous cases.
Delayed rape case since 2006
The directions were issued during the hearing of a rape case in Gurdaspur, which was pending trial since 2006 in Gurdaspur court. The petitioner had moved the high court seeking directions for expediting the trial of the case.
On high court's directions, it was informed by the state authorities that the additional district and sessions judges of fast track court at Gurdaspur who had been hearing the case, include JS Chugh, Surinder Mohan, Harpal Singh, Kishore Kumar, SP Sood and Rajiv Malhotra till date.
Taking strong note of the delay of trial of case, justice Singh said, "The manner in which the case was dealt would clearly reveal that there was negligence on the part of some of the (judicial) officers above except for some period when the proceedings in this case stand stayed. The officer dealing with the case seems to have not applied themselves correctly attributed to the delayed disposal of this case."
Justice Singh further added, "The aspect of delay in dealing with this case be put up before administrative judge Gurdaspur…. to see the feasibility or desirability of taking any action against those officers who are responsible of this delay."
The court also directed senior superintendent of police, Gurdaspur, to personally look into the case and take action against all the police officials responsible for not bringing the main accused, a proclaimed offender, in the case to face trial of the case.