Himalayan apathy: Odisha forfeits Rs 145cr central grant for 63 Fast Track Courts

The dismaying fact for Odisha is when a massive 581 FTCs are functioning in the country, Odisha has not a single FTC to its credit

Bhubaneswar: In a classic instance of Himalayan injustice towards women and vulnerable groups in the State, Odisha Government has simply junked the huge central grant of Rs 145 crore for bringing up 63 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) in the State.

Significantly, when the State government has often taken up cudgels against cut in central fund for the State, what comes as a shocker is the Rs 145 crore for FTCs in the State has not been availed and the fund will lapse soon as the five year tenure of the earmarked fund will be ending on March 31, 2020.

The dismaying fact for the State is when a massive 581 FTCs are functioning in the country, Odisha has not a single FTC to its credit.

The outcome is discernibly clear. Sexual assaults on girl children have increased in Odisha to a high of around 63 per cent in 2019 from a mere 28 per cent in 2013.

A significant fact in this backdrop is the State had 35 functional FTCs and 30 special courts for women till March 31, 2011.  Odisha has implemented the FTC proposal from 2001 to 2011. And the State had received a financial grant of Rs 2,798 crore. The FTCs had disposed a whopping 60,441 cases from a total transfer of around 66,199 cases to the FTCs.

However, post the expiry of the scheme term, FTCs in State saw an abrupt closure leading to pendency of 5,700 grave cases sent to FTCs for swift disposal.

FTCs were conceptualised by the 11th Finance Commission with an objective to ensure a speedy trial and conviction in heinous crimes like rapes, trafficking, crimes against senior citizens, children etc. Also, grave criminal and civil cases that are pending for over 5-years were transferred to FTCs for speedy disposal.

Even, the Apex court in its 2012 Judgement had clearly asked the States not to establish FTCs as an adhoc or a temporary policy measure. FTCs should work as a permanent mechanism to guarantee fast tracking of justice delivery in the aforesaid crimes.

In pursuance, the Centre had proposed to the 14th Finance Commission (set up in 2013) the need to establish FTCs to fast track justice delivery in such sensitive crimes. The 14th FC had approved it and Centre earmarked Rs 4,144 crore to bring up 1800 FTCs across the country.

It is pertinent to mention that yesterday (on July 25, 2019) a Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi directed all States to set up exclusive courts in districts that record 100 cases under POCSO (Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.

As per experts, the State refused to avail the scheme as the Odisha Government has to give some matching amount to bring up the 63 FTCs. The lament here is when Odisha government goes on an all out splurge for populist schemes, the pulling-back from schemes like FTCs brings to glare how less concerned the Government is towards the safety of women and vulnerable groups.