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Rajasthan: Despite trials in fast-track courts, many cases still await justice


Swati Vashishtha,CNN-IBN
Jan 21, 2013 at 09:49am IST

Jaipur: As a tribute to the Delhi braveheart and several others like her, CNN-IBN follows the Agenda for Change campaign focusing on curbing crimes against women. With fast-track courts in Rajasthan, it seems the high-profile cases have seen quick judgements, but the majority of cases are still awaiting justice.

In September 1997, a 26-year-old was gangraped by seven men at a hostel in Rajasthan University and the rapists were politically well connected. Public protests ensured the case went to a fast-track court, but justice took a full 15 years. Seven judges were transferred out before the court passed a verdict of 10 years Rigorous Imprisonment.

CNN-IBN met the family of the JC Bose Hostel gangrape survivor. The family that had to wait for a cruelly long 15 years before they got justice for her through what's known as a fast-track court. They told Cnn-IBN how it's been a continuing lonely battle through which they find themselves drained emotionally, psychologically, socially and economically.

Yet, fast-track courts in Rajasthan have given verdicts in record time in two cases of sexual assault on foreign tourists in Jodhpur and Alwar. Legal experts feel fast-track courts should focus on crimes against women and not all cases. Public prosecutors and investigating officers need to be accountable as well.

Justice Dave, Retired High Court Judge and member of Supreme Court empowered panel, said, "They should deal only with these cases, they should not be burdened with any other cases then and their functioning must be monitored, but they can only function properly if investigating officers and public prosecutors cooperate. Lawyers need to be sensitised. There cannot be political appointments for public prosecutors who will then deal with these matters."

Also unaddressed is the larger issue of a severely short staffed judiciary. Kavita Shrivastava, Civil Rights activist, Jaipur, said, "In Rajasthan, the average number of cases a magistrate has on a daily basis are 200, in a seven-hour court with 200 cases, what is a judge going to do? The point is the judiciary will only be able to deliver if we increase the number of judges, the Supreme Court says we need ten times more. And secondly even if there's speedy trial at the sessions level what about the High Court?"

Fast-track courts will only deliver if there is real political will to make it happen. Till then it will take 15 years or longer for women to get justice in Rajasthan.

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