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Speed up trial in crime against women, drug cases: Chief justice Krishna Murari

Responding to a session judge’s comment differentiating the importance of expediency in trials of crime against women and children and the drug cases, he said the latter were as important.

punjab Updated: Aug 20, 2018 09:49 IST
Aneesha bedi
Aneesha bedi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
crime,drug,Chief justice
Punjab and Haryana high court chief justice Krishna Murari (right) at a conference in Chandigarh on Sunday.(HT Photo)

Taking strict cognisance of the growing pendency in lower courts in the region, Punjab and Haryana high court chief justice Krishna Murari on Sunday emphasised on the need for speedy disposal of drug cases and those of crime against women, highlighting the two are related to each other in many cases.

Addressing a regional conference ahead of the launch of information technology projects to help litigants, justice Murari expressed concern over the rise in the number of cases of crime against women and kids, especially in Punjab and Haryana.

Responding to a session judge’s comment differentiating the importance of expediency in trials of crime against women and children and the drug cases, he said the latter were as important.

“We cannot afford to lose our youth, especially given the fact how drug addicts are often caught for crime against women and minors,” he said during the event at the Chandigarh Judicial Academy in Sector 43 here.

Justice Murari questioned the gathering, which comprised district and sessions judges of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, on the reasons for delay and frequent adjournments in these cases, reiterating how it ought to be the judicial officers’ priority to ensure that police present the challan before court within 60 days of registering the first information report (FIR).

In line with SC ruling

The Supreme Court in May this year had asked high courts (HCs) to set up special courts to curb unnecessary adjournments. The court had also directed director generals of police (DGPs) to set up a special task force in every state to ensure that investigations get completed on time and witnesses are produced in court.

The apex court had also directed HCs to constitute a committee of judges to monitor progress in trials in cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Police officials present at the event requested that nodal officers appointed under the Juvenile Justice Act not be transferred, at least until investigations under them are over. The chief justice along with other HC judges pointed out that all juvenile homes in Punjab and Haryana must have video-conferencing facility.

Discussing multiple solutions for grievances faced by courts in the region, a Gurgaon sessions judge highlighted how various prosecuters weren’t provided the case file until it was time for them to record the statement, leading to confusion at times.

Focus on forensics

Justice Rajesh Bindal took up the issue of delay in forensic examination hampering speedy trials in such cases. While representatives from Punjab said their labs came under the Union home department, a senior Haryana cop said they were already streamlining the process.

A judicial officer from Gurgaon said 165 drug cases were pending there because of delay in forensic reports. The chief justice said the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) should take a month to carry out the investigation and submit the report within 10 days before court to avoid unnecessary delay.

Meanwhile, judicial officers were also asked for an explanation on the mounting pendency in cheque bounce cases. “While the disposal time should be around six months in such cases, why are we noticing that the case itself is adjourned for six months?” questioned the chief justice.

Plight of lower courts

According to data available till January 2018, lower courts in Punjab recorded an increase of 63,912 cases in one year. The district courts in the state have seen an average pendency of over 5.28 lakh each year since 2010.

In Haryana, a total number of 6,45,647 cases were pending in the lower courts in January 2018, with 20% pending for more than two years.

The pendency and disposal rate in Chandigarh has been better than in the neighbouring states.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 09:49 IST