SC plan: Fast track court for rape casesIn a bid to provide timely justice to the victims of crimes such as rape and domestic violence, the Supreme Court (SC) has pitched for fast track courts to oversee such cases.
Mooted in the third strategic plan of the apex court, the concept of such court could come as welcome respite to the victims. A four-member committee has been formed to study the scope, function and authority of such courts. The members of the committee comprise of Judge Til Prasad Shrestha, Judge Tek Narayan Kunwar and Joint Registrars duo Bipul Neupane and Nahakul Subedi.
According to Judge Til Prasad Shrestha, one of the members of the committee, they are carrying out the preliminary works to set up a fast track justice mechanism that deals with serious cases. Asked about the continuous hearing provision in serious cases such as rape, Shrestha pointed out that the provision applies to other cases such as hostage taking and arson apart from rape.
“The idea is to focus on cases of rape and domestic violence. We could begin with a few cases and eventually include other cases that are serious in nature. Such fast track courts generally are equivalent to trial courts,” said Shrestha.
As part of the continuous hearing provision over 50 courts have already furnished details of continuous hearing on cases of serious nature, including rape, hostage taking and human trafficking, to the SC administration.
The move on the part of the trial courts comes in line with the SC’s order of July 2013 that had directed the trial courts across the country to carry out continuous hearing on cases of serious nature. According to the data obtained from the SC administration, the Kathmandu District Court tops the list with a total of 914 cases of serious nature; 461 among them are yet to be disposed.
Rupandehi district follows Kathmandu with 427 cases; 243 among them are yet to be cleared. The data were recorded between July 2013 and June 2014, the SC administration said.
The SC had ordered the government and the authorities concerned to make special provisions to promptly hear and clear the cases of serious nature to ensure timely and effective justice to the victims.
The order came in response to a petition filed by Uma Tamang of Maiti Nepal, Sunita Danuwar of Shakti Samuha and Sushma Gautam of Forum for Women, Law and Development, demanding that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Nepal Police Headquarters direct the district police offices to produce the accused in the court during the investigation period itself.
Following the court order, the Justice Sector Coordination Committee of the SC on January 5 had decided to ask all the trial courts to submit details of the hearing on serious cases.
Although there is a legal provision that calls for carrying out continuous hearing on certain cases, it had not been followed as the court administration and the government attorney’s office interpreted it as an optional provision. The apex court has, however, noted that the provision in the District Court Regulations is not optional.
Judge Shrestha said the study committee would work in conjunction with other concerned authorities such as National Women Commission and Ministry of Women and Children to finalise the content of the fast track court.