Fast Track Courts by definition are courts that have been established to operate at a quicker pace than the rest of the judicial system. The purpose is to resolve crimes of grave nature or issues which have been pending in the court for a long period of time. They are also called as Special Fast Track Courts in the Indian context.
The chief responsibility and power of establishing a fast track court lies within the state government and not the central government. Conversely it is the duty of the central government to disperse funds to the state government for the proper functioning of these Fast Track Courts.
In recent times, Fast Track Courts have become a subject of controversy as it is often being used as a weapon in the political arena of our country. The demand of such courts came into light after the horrific Nirbhaya rape case due to public unrest, in order to ensure justice is not delayed for rape survivors and victims.
The history of Fast Track Courts can be traced back when it was first proposed by the 11th Finance Commission for the purpose of disposing of long standing litigation that was clogging up in the Indian judicial system. These were first set up in the year 2000 for a time period of 5 years.
In the case of Brij Mohan Lal v Union of India, the Honorable Supreme Court took cognizance of the impending end of the Fast Track Courts. It should not be disbanded all of a sudden and should be continued by the government. Consequently the government extended the duration of these court for another 5 years. Gradually these courts in various states started to expand in terms of scope to include cases of sexual assault against women and children as well on the direction of the respective state government.
Fast Track Courts have various advantages which can be discussed in the following points: The fast-track courts help in DE clogging the Indian judicial system. As India’s judicial system is slow in disposing cases with hundreds and thousands of cases still pending from the pre-independence era. Under trials- people who are arrested or detained and awaiting their trial to begin- in India can often spend years before going to the court of law. The fast track courts expedite the process and deliver trial dates to under trials more quickly, as one can say “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Most importantly, the fast track courts help in delivering justice to the victims their families. In the case of India, cases of sexual crimes can often take years with victims constantly having to deal with the fear of the abuser being acquitted. The fast track courts help resolve the dilemma. Even with cases of non-sexual assault, such as financial fraud, the courts help in delivering justice in case and bring an end to decades of fruitless litigation.
It has several advantages and it’s intended to serve a positive role, the fast track courts also suffer from weaknesses. One of them is numerous logistical issues, a survey by a national law school was conducted and it has been found that the gaps in technology prevented the courts from hearing from victims. It also reported shortages of staff and judges that pose a solemn threat to the primary objective of fast track courts.
Another flaw is deciding which cases to prioritize, at times decisions are an answer based on political maneuverings and sentiments. For example in the case of Nirbhaya, the public opinion pressurized in the establishment of fast track courts. However there are also those who argue that rape and sexual assault are brutal and question why the state chooses those crimes instead of murder.
In conclusion, the fast tracks can be advantageous to us on many levels. They aid in delivering justice, reduced imprisoned population and help in bringing closure to the victims and their families. On the other hand it has a number of drawbacks that must be addressed for them to be functioning as per legislative intent. Given the high stakes involved in these courts, the inevitability can be little in terms of failure.