45 fast-track courts exclusively for women cases

In a first, the state government has decided to notify 45 of the 88 permanent fast-track courts as "dedicated courts" to try cases of crime against women. The government is also contemplating to appoint women judges in these courts and a decision to this effect will be taken in the next cabinet meeting.

"We have taken the decision to notify 45 courts as courts to try cases of crime against women. We are yet to take a final call on the methodology. We are contemplating that the cases be heard by women judges only. Initially, we may not have adequate number of women judges. But gradually, we will appoint women judges," said Chandrima Bhattacharya, Minister of State for Law with independent charge.

In the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, the government announced that 88 fast tracks courts will be made permanent in the state. At present, there are 138 fast track courts in the state. "The fast-track courts can hear any case which needs to be fast tracked. But we are going to notify 45 of them exclusively to hear cases related to atrocities against women," added Bhattacharya.

According to a senior official of the law department, there is no legal provision under which a state government can set up courts for dealing cases of crime against women. "There is no nomenclature, which we will use to set up these courts for women. If we introduce a special Act or bring a special provision, it will take time and things will be unnecessarily delayed. That is why the government has decided to notify the fast-track courts as women courts," said the official.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Ashok Ganguly, who is the chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, termed the government's decision as a welcome step. "This is a welcome step by the state government. The number of cases of crime against women is very high in the state. In fact, over 50 per cent of the total cases which we receive are related to crimes against women," he said.

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