The Delhi High Court directed the AAP government Thursday to comply with its previous order to place before the Cabinet the need for 18 more fast track and 22 commercial courts, failing which coercive action would be taken against the department concerned.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi directed the Delhi government to complete the process before the next date of hearing, on July 4, and file a report.
"List the matter on July 4, by which date the respondents should complete the process as directed by us on May 16 and submit a report, failing which coercive action would be taken against the concerned department," the bench said.
The court was hearing a plea for making fast track courts a permanent feature at the district level.
Advocate Anupam Srivastava, representing the Delhi government, submitted a status report before the court and said they are in the process of complying with the directions.
He said the issue of establishing fast track courts is lying with the council of ministers and the issue of commercial courts is before the law minister.
The bench on May 16, had directed the Delhi government to place before the Cabinet the requirement for 18 more fast track and 22 commercial courts and said the high court had sanctioned certain posts of judges for establishing fast track and commercials courts but the matter has been pending before the government for over two years.
It had said once the high court made the demand, government was duty bound to process it.
The court was earlier informed that as on day, 6,414 cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and over 2,800 cases of sexual offences, particularly rape, are pending in Delhi.
It had noted that the mandate of Section 309 CrPC contemplates that cases of rape under the IPC and of sexual offences against minors under the POCSO Act should be decided in two months after the filing of the charge sheet.
Considering the pendency, the court had said it is "humanly impossible" unless adequate number of courts are sanctioned.
Petitioner Prag Chawla has contended that the Registrar General of the high court has made representations to authorities to make fast track courts (FTC) a permanent feature by sanctioning more posts of judges and ancillary staff, but till date no action has been taken.
The petition, filed through advocate Sumit Chander, has claimed that FTCs at the level of additional district or session judge (ADJ/ASJ) was being run on ad-hoc or temporary basis and the Supreme Court in 2012 had directed that either they be discontinued or made permanent.
The court had noted that under the Commercial Courts Act, the state is bound to create these courts and dispose of the commercial disputes and that the demand for 22 commercial courts is still pending with the government.
Chawla has said that after the apex court's decision, the high court had sent a letter in July 2012 to the Delhi government requesting it to continue the FTC scheme as a permanent feature.
In 2013, the high court had again written to the Delhi government to expedite the setting up of permanent FTCs and to sanction 20 posts of additional district and sessions judges along with 95 posts of ancillary staff, the petition has said.
The government, however, sanctioned the FTCs only for one more year, the plea has claimed and added that this sanction was given year after year whenever a letter was sent by the high court to make it permanent.
"However, no such court (FTC) has become functional against this sanction as no appointment to such courts can be made on an ad-hoc basis," the petition has claimed.
It has also claimed that there is a shortfall of over 200 judges in the subordinate judiciary which has led to an increase in pendency of cases, including those of sexual assault against minors and rape, in the lower courts.
The petition has also alleged that there is a shortage of commercial courts at the district-level and has sought creation of 22 posts with ancillary staff for this purpose.
"The present petition is necessitated in view of the delay by the Government of NCT of Delhi to take any action or decision in respect of the establishment of FTCs on a permanent basis and its insistence on extending the scheme on an ad-hoc basis," the plea has said.
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