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Fast Track Courts

Info: 5374 words (21 pages) Essay
Published: 12th Aug 2019

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Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK LawIndian law


The constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is an important safeguard. It prevents undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial and limits the possibilities that long delays will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself. The right to free legal aid and speedy trial are implicit in Art.21 of the constitution of India.

The right to a speedy trial is first mentioned in landmark document of English law, the Magna Carta. The concept of right to speedy trial has grown in age by almost two and a half decades. It deals with speedy disposal of cases to make the judiciary more effective and to impart justice as fast as possible but the goal sought to be achieved is yet a far-off peak. Article 21 declares that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure laid by law.” Justice Krishna Iyer while dealing with the bail petition in Babu Singh v. State of UP, remarked, “Our justice system even in grave cases, suffers from slow motion syndrome which is lethal to ‘fair trial’ whatever the ultimate decision. Speedy justice is a component of social justice since the community, as a whole, is concerned in the criminal being condignly and finally punished within a reasonable time and the innocent being absolved from the inordinate ordeal of criminal proceedings.” In Sheela Barse v. Union of India, court reaffirmed that speedy trial to be fundamental right. Right to speedy trial is a concept gaining recognition and importance day by day. There are 3 pillars of social restraint and order in India

(1) legislature

(2) executive

(3) judiciary

Legislature is an authority which makes the law & Executive takes into consideration effective implementation of the legislations while judiciary implements it in practical life. But are any of them concerned about these problems? With the rapid growth in technological, industrial field and population, workload has increased on the judiciary system which calls for effective and rapid disposal of ever increasing cases. Also the Constitutional courts of the country were held just and reasonable in holding the right to speedy trial procedure enshrined in Article 21 due to the mental agony, expense and strain which a person proceeded against in criminal law has to undergo and which, coupled with delay, may result in impairing the capability or ability of the accused to defend himself.

Speedy trial, again, would encompass within its sweep all its stages including investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal, revision and re-trial in short everything commencing with an accusation and expiring with the final verdict. But denial of such fundamental right to the accused persons, due to failure on the part of prosecuting agencies and executive to act, and their turning an almost blind eye at securing expeditious and speedy trial so as to satisfy the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution have persuaded the Supreme Court in devising solutions which go to the extent of almost enacting by judicial verdict bars of limitation beyond which the trial shall not proceed and the arm of law shall lose its hold.

The validity or justness of those decisions is not the matter to be decided but the seriousness of delay in the conclusion of criminal and civil matters must be appreciated at the earliest. Right to speedy trial is the essence of criminal justice and there is no doubt that justice delayed is justice denied. In United States speedy trial is one of the constitutionally assured rights. European Convention on Human Rights also provides that everyone arrested or detained shall be entitled to trial within reasonable time or to release pending trial. Though right to speedy trial is not specifically enumerated as fundamental right in Constitution of India, it is implicit in the broad sweep of Article 21(ii). The procedure cannot be fair unless it ensures speedy trial for determination of the guilt of the accused. There can be, hence, no doubt that speedy trial (reasonably expeditious trial) is an integral and essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21(iii).

For the same purpose and to achieve the aim of speedy justice, judiciary has also come up with the concept of Fast Track Courts. This is a noble concept which is introduced for the speedy disposal of vast number of pending cases in the various courts throughout India. There is a vast increase the no number of pending cases due to the various reasons like the vast number of vacancy to the post of judges, Provision for adjournment, it is also the main reason for the delay in the cases is the adjournment granted by the court on flimsy grounds, then the Vacation of the court in country like India where there are huge number of pendency of cases. In most of the countries like U.S. and France there is no such provision and there are various other reasons along with it which account for the same.

India is a democratic country where justice is done to all. It works on the principle “let 100 culprits go free but not a single innocent person should be punished.” Doing justice to all, is the concept that has travelled through the ages. From the very old times we had courts and authorities which delivered judgments on various disputes. From this we have in the present day various courts at different levels like metropolitan court, district court, session’s court, high court, Supreme Court and various other courts at different level which decides cases at different level. But in the present date we have various cases pending in different courts whose number in increasing day by day. The courts take years to decide a case and the judgment is passed after eight-ten or even fifteen years or more. But it is something called as delayed justice and it is well said that “justice delayed is justice denied.” So, there should be some mechanism in order to serve the purpose at an appropriate time and in appropriate manner. There should be some control barrier but it does not mean at all that the very purpose should be forgotten because “justice hurried is justice buried”. So, we should basically focus delivery of judgment in a proper way in a proper span of time.


In the present day we feel the need for speedy trial because of various reasons the most prominent among them are:

 The vast number of pending cases in India:-

As per the recently published article in the Times of India it was revealed that as many as more than 50,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court. It said as follows:-

“In a blow to the concept of “speedy Justice”, the Supreme Court has for the first time in a decade run up a backlog of more than 50,000 cases. The dubious mark was crossed by the end of March 2009 when the number of pending cases stood at 50,163.

With computerization of the S.C. registry and use of information technology in docket management, pendency of cases in the 1990s was brought down from more than one lakh to a manageable 20,000. But the huge rush of litigants, despite an increased disposal rate, has proved more than a match for the judges, who hear more than 80 cases a day.

The pendency has steadily crept northwards since 2006, when it stood at 34,649. In January 2007, it had become the trend of spiraling pendency. However, even as the SC stepped up the rate at which it disposed of cases, the apex court failed to reduce the pendency as it could not cope up with the rising number of cases filed every year.

The Dockets swelled and the pendency by January 2008 was within striking distance of the 50,000-mark, standing at 46,926. By January 2009, pendency rose to 49,819, before finally breaching the 50,000 mark in March.

A similar trend was seen at the level of high courts and trial courts. The 21 high courts, working with a total strength of just 635 judges against a sanctioned strength of 886, reported a pendency of 38.7 lakh cases as of January 1, 2009, against 37.4 lakh cases on January 1, 2008.

2.64 Cr cases pending before trial courts:-

The SC has for the first time in a decade run up a backlog of more than 50,000 cases. Trial courts, having a judge strength of 13,556 against a sanctioned strength of 16,685, were burdened with an additional pendency of nearly 10 lakh cases by January 2009, when the pendency figure was 2.64 crore. It stood at 2.54 crore cases in January 2008.

The CJI has been repeatedly saying the state governments to increase the strength of trial court judges by an additional 10,000 to tackle the situation, but most of them have brushed aside the only practical solution, citing a fund Crunch.”

 Over populous condition inside the jails.

Prisons in India are governed by the Indian Prison Act. It gives emphasis for not only safe custody but on reformation and rehabilitation of offenders in society. It occupies a unique position in society, as it is the final repository for those persons who are labeled as losers and temporarily or semi-permanently or permanently irredeemable. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, also observed the fact – that a criminal is largely created by social conditions and, instead of being punished has to be treated, as one is required to be treated for a disease. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Nation also expressed the idea that “Crime is the outcome of a diseased mind and Prison must have an environment of hospital for treatment and care’’.

But today the condition of this hospital for the people who have committed crime is just like the worst place to live in the Physical condition of prisons of is described by words like-

(i) Overcrowding and Congestion;

(ii) Unhygienic conditions;

(iii) lack of other Basic amenities.

The prisoners are those persons who are

1. Under trials,

2. Convicts and

3. Detenues

The condition of the prisoners is very poor. They are sent to jail for reformation purpose but in jail due to overcrowding, there is no reformation but on the other hand the persons who are hard core criminals turn the other persons who come to jail also into hard core criminals. They are forced to live in the worst possible way they can. And in that also many are those persons who are poor arrested for petty offences and could not afford for bail. They remain in the jail for years and years without being looked in to. In fact these are those persons who could not afford for two square meal in a day and in the jail at least gets food and shelter without cost. There are many such people. So, the jails should be made free from such people by speedy disposal of their cases and instead of sending them in jail they should be fined for the if they have committed petty offence or they should be left to do other things like serving poor etc instead of sending them to jail. Also the persons who are accused only and can be released on jail should be quickly released on jail by speedy disposal of bail application so that the crowd can be reduced.

According to the data given in “Contemporary Issues of Correctional Administration in India” :-

“There are 1315 (Central Prisons, District Prisons, Sub Prisons, 14 Women Prisons, 12 Borstal School, 26 Open Prisons, 25 Special Prisons and 7 other Correctional Institutions) in India having the authorized capacity of 252,117 prisoners as against actual prison population of 343,796 leading to overcrowding to the extent of 36%.

During the year 2005, as against the authorized capacity of 252117 in 1315 Indian Prisons, there were 343,796 prisoners. It comprised of sentenced / convicts – 104158; unsentenced / undertrial prisoners – 238250; detenues – 1388. The rate of imprisonment in Indian prisons is 31

prisoners per one hundred thousand of population which is one of the lowest in the world.”

But for all these things and to improve the condition of overcrowded jails and in vast number of pending cases, we need to dispose of the cases fastly and to fulfill the dream we need things like fast track courts, lok adalats , etc. The Government of India has been undertaking various measures to reduce overcrowding and also reduce the trial detention period.


All the delay and lack of accountability and half baked schemes amount to a daily mockery of the fundamental right to speedy trial. The Supreme Court made it clear that “speedy trial is of essence to criminal justice and there can be no doubt that the delay in trial by itself constitutes denial of justice”.

In yet another case It added that “there can be no doubt that speedy trial — and by speedy trial we mean a reasonably expeditious trial — is an integral and essential part of fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Art 21”.

It is a very important obligation. Even apart from Art. 21 the constitutional mandate for speedy justice is inescapable. The preamble of the Constitution enjoins the state to secure social, economic and political justice to all its citizens. The Directive Principles of State Policy declare that the state should strive for a social order in which such justice shall inform all the institutions of national life {(Art 38 (1)}. This is elaborated by specifically adding that “The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice..; to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities” (Art 39A). While interpreting this provision the Supreme Court has held that “social justice would include ‘legal justice’ which means that the system of administration of justice must provide a cheap, expeditious and effective instrument for realization of justice by all section of the people irrespective of their social or economic position or their financial resources”.

Observing that speedy trial is a fundamental right of an accused, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre and all State Governments to prevent unreasonable delay in disposal of criminal cases.

In order to make the administration of criminal justice effective, vibrant and meaningful, the Union of India, the State Governments and all authorities must take necessary steps immediately so that the constitutional right of the accused to speedy trial does not remain only on paper, said a Bench consisting of Justices S.B. Sinha and Dalveer Bhandari.

“While it is incumbent on the court to see that no guilty person escapes, it is still more its duty to see that justice is not delayed and accused persons are not indefinitely harassed,” the Bench said quashing the proceedings initiated by the State Bank of India in 1980 against Motilal Saraf, an officer, under the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act for receiving Rs. 700 as illegal gratification.

The constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is an important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial; to minimize anxiety and concern accompanying public accusation and to limit the possibilities that long delays will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself. It is the bounden duty of the court and the prosecution to prevent unreasonable delay.

Writing the judgment, Justice Bhandari said the apex court in a number of cases reiterated that speedy trial was one of the facets of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21 and the law must ensure reasonable, just and fair procedure. “No procedure which does not ensure a reasonably quick trial can be regarded as reasonable, fair or just and it would fall foul of Article 21.”

The Bench said: “The right to speedy trial begins with the actual restraint imposed by arrest and consequent incarceration and continues at all stages, namely, the stage of investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal and revision so that any possible prejudice that may result from impermissible and avoidable delay from the time of the commission of the offence till it consummates into a finality can be averted.”

So, we are now very clear with the thing that seedy trial is a very important fundamental there are many ways by which it can be ensured like:-

i. Prison Courts (Lok Adalats) :-

Holding of Lok Adalats in the prison is another step towards speedy disposal of cases of undertrials involving petty offences like theft, retaining stolen property, breach of the peace and like minor offences. For holding the Lok Adalat the Superintendent of Prison is required to identify petty offences of undertrials in such cases where no progress has been made towards conclusion of trial involving sentence less than two years or so. He then contacts the District and Session Judge who in turn deputes judicial officers to hold courts and dispose of cases by passing appropriate orders. Such courts result in release of undertrials from the prison.

ii. Fast Track Courts :-

This is an initiative of the Department of Justice to cut short delays in courts, the XIth Finance Commission of India recommended a scheme for creation of 1734 additional courts in the country for disposal of long pending sessions and other cases. The services of retired judges were availed of to man these courts. The scheme is extended further to expedite disposal of pending trial cases.

iii. Alternatives to Imprisonment

Probation service in India is one method of not confining offenders to an institutional but releasing them on good behaviour on the conditions prescribed by the courts under the guidance of the Probation Officer. It imposes conditions and retains the authority in the sentencing court to Modify the conditions of sentence of incarceration to the offender if he violates such imposed conditions. Probation is used for first time offenders and is an effective alternate to imprisonment. Community Service Scheme has also been started in one state i.e. Gujarat and it is an alternate for offences under the Bombay Prohibition Act. Another state i.e. Andhra Pradesh has also amended the Penal Code and introduced Community Service as a punishment. This legislation is now pending with the Union.

So, these are a few ways in which the right to speedy trial can be ensured. And further more ways can be made out in which this important fundamental right can be ensured.


The Eleventh Finance Commission recommended a scheme for creation of 1734 Fast Track Courts in the country for disposal of long pending Sessions and other cases. The Ministry of Finance, Government of India sanctioned an amount of Rs. 502.90 crores as “special problem and upgradation grant” for judicial administration. The scheme was for a period of 5 years. Out of 18.46 lakh cases transferred to them, 10.66 lakh cases were disposed of by these courts at the end of the said scheme on 31.03.2005. Keeping in view the performance of Fast Track Courts and contribution made by them towards clearing the backlog, the scheme has been extended till 31.03.2010 with a provision of Rs. 509 crores as 100 percent central assistance.

In his address at a Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 08.04.2007, Hon’ble Mr. Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, CJI, expressed the view that these courts have been quite successful in reducing the arrears. Most of the criminal cases in subordinate courts are pending at the level of Magistrates. Keeping in view the performance of Fast Track Courts of Session Judges, the Government of India should formulate a similar scheme for setting up Fast Track Courts of Magistrates in each State, as recommended by the previous Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices held on 11.03.2006. Similar views were expressed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice B. N. Agrawal, Judge, Supreme Court of India, on 01.08.2007 at the Lecture Series organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association.

In this era of globalization and rapid technological developments, which is affecting almost all economies and presenting new challenges and opportunities, judiciary cannot afford to lag behind and has to be fully prepared to meet the challenges of the age. It is heartening to note that use of information and communication technology in judiciary is growing despite various constraints. Day-to-day management of courts at all levels can be simplified and improved through use of technology including availability of case-law and meeting administrative requirements. Congestion in court complex can also be substantially reduced through electronic dissemination of information. The objectives that can be achieved through use of technology include transparency of information, streamlining of judicial administration and reduction of cost.

Increase in the number of judicial officers will have to be accompanied by proportionate increase in the number of court rooms. The existing court buildings are grossly inadequate to meet even the existing requirements and their condition particularly in small towns and moffusils is pathetic. A visit to one of these courts would reveal the space constraints being faced by them, overcrowding of lawyers and litigants, lack of basic amenities such as regular water and electric supply and the unhygienic and insanitary conditions prevailing therein. The National Commission to review the working of the Constitution noted that judicial administration in the country suffers from deficiencies due to lack of proper planned and adequate financial support for establishing more courts and providing them with adequate infrastructure. It is, therefore, necessary to phase out the old and outdated court buildings, replace them by standardized modern court buildings coupled with addition of more court rooms to the existing buildings and more court complexes.

So, we can finally say that the paramount purpose of speedy trial is to safeguard the innocents from undue punishments but prolonged pendency has created an unmountable barrier in that. Huge no. of cases is pending for years together which creates mental and economic pressure on litigants. In hussainara khatoon v. State of Bihar which formed the basis of the concept of the Speedy Trial, it was held that where undertrial prisoners have been in jail for duration longer than prescribed, if convicted, their detention in jail is totally unjustified and in violation to fundamental rights under article 21. Inordinate delays violates article 21 of the constitution: for more than 11 yrs the trial is pending without any progress for no faults of the accused-petitioner. Expeditious rights is a basic right to everybody and cannot be trampled upon unless any of the parties can be accused of the delay. Delay in trial unnecessarily confers a right upon the accused to apply for bail. Under sec. 482 read with 483, Cr. P.C lays that every possible measure to be taken to dispose off the case within 6months from today. No adjournments to be granted until n unless circumstances are beyond the control of judiciary. It is the responsibility of the judiciary to keep a check on under trial prisoners and bring them to trial. Overcrowded courts, inadequate resources, fiscal deficiency cannot be the reasons for deprivation of a person. In cases relating corruption, judiciary should deal with it swiftly and dispose the case as fast as possible.


The National Human Rights Commission, in its Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Fast Track Court of H.U. Mahida acquitting all the 21 accused in the Best Bakery case, relating to the murder of 14 Muslims in the communal violence in Vadodara on March 1, 2002.

In its petition, the NHRC brought to the notice of the Supreme Court that even as one witness after the other, including the principal eyewitnesses, turned hostile, Judge Mahida made no effort to ascertain why this was happening. Quoting from records the NHRC raised strong objection that there was no effective cross examination of Zahira Sheik and Lal Mohammad, who contradicted their earlier written propositions. “Thus, instead of making efforts to strengthen the prosecution case, it appears that the steps to the contrary were being taken,” the NHRC petition noted. The NHRC also pointed out how the trial was reduced to a farce by doing away with a detailed cross-examination of the investigating officer who took the witness stand on June 21. On the same day, the Additional Sessions Judge, Fast Track Court No.1, Vadodara, completed the examination and recording of the statements of all the 21 accused persons under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and proceeded to hear arguments in part. The Fast Track Court, true to its name, delivered its judgment on June 27. The trial had begun on February 20. Was the trial court totally helpless in the face of lack of evidence before it? Apparently, the trial court was under the impression that it had no powers and jurisdiction to find and establish that if the accused were not guilty, then who was the real offender, or to order compensation from the government to the sufferer. “The court of justice is not a court of justice in the real sense, but it is a court of evidence,” Judge Mahida had remarked in his judgment. The NHRC did not agree. It said that the trial court is not rendered helpless either under Cr.P.C. or the Constitution, it had enormous powers to defer the trial, hold it in camera, direct the prosecution to do better, and examine the reasons behind volte-face of all witnesses in a row.

As NHRC rightly observed failure to order further investigation in the case in order to arrive at the truth and uphold the cause of justice had vitiated the whole trial. There are provisions in the CrPC that can be invoked in order to enable witnesses to depose before the court in a fair and fearless manner, the NHRC pointed out. “Where one witness after the other is seen by the court to be resiling from the earlier statement made, it was incumbent upon the prosecution to apply to the court to have the trial conducted in camera under Section 9 (6) of CrPC. Even if the prosecution did not do so, the court was not powerless… to suggest that the trial should be held in camera,” the NHRC pointed out. Under Section 309 of the CrPC, the trial court can, for reasons to be recorded in writing, postpone the trial in order to ensure that a safe atmosphere is created to enable witnesses to depose fearlessly. It is also possible under Section 311 to recall and re-examine any person already examined, particularly if his or her evidence appears to it to be essential to the just decision of the case. The Fast Track Court did not exercise these powers and preferred acquit them all.

On August 8, the Supreme Court Bench appeared to have agreed broadly with the thrust of the NHRC’s petition. It directed the Centre and the Gujarat government to submit within two weeks whether any scheme had been formulated to revamp the criminal justice system.

So, this is the most disadvantageous side of fast track courts which should be also properly looked into because the purpose of fast track courts is not only speedy disposal of cases but along with it should also serve the basic purpose of doing justice to the people or else its of no good use.


Litigation through the courts is just one way of resolving the disputes. We should, therefore, resort to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as negotiations, conciliation and mediation, in which nobody is a loser and all the parties feel satisfied at the end of the day. The main problem being faced in this regard is that there are not many trained mediators and conciliators. We need to impart training in mediation and conciliation not only to judicial officers but also to the lawyers. They will have to develop expertise to act as successful mediators and conciliators. We also need to provide adequate infrastructure for conciliation and mediation centres by giving them adequate space, manpower and other facilities. The Government being the biggest litigant needs to be fully involved in the process and its officers need to take lead in this cause.

The right to speedy trial is not a fact or fiction but a “Constitutional reality” and it has to be given its due respect. The courts and the legislature have already accepted it as one of the medium of reducing the increasing workloads on the courts. The right to a speedy trial, and its resulting impact on both the defendant and society as a whole, makes this Sixth Amendment guarantee a crucial portion of the Bill of Rights — and another important part of our legal heritage. Repeated delays and continuances in the criminal justice process prevent victims from ever reaching emotional, physical, and financial closure to the trauma suffered as a result of the crime(s) perpetrated against them. Such delays in prosecution can also limit the ability of victims to receive justice when their memories, or those of other witnesses, fade with the passage of time or when the victim’s health deteriorates

Though there are no specific provisions for speedy trial, by judicial interpretation, the Supreme Court has held article 21 of the constitution confers the right on the accused. It is in the interest of all the concerned that the case is disposed off quickly and justice is seem to occur. In Abdul Rehman v. R.S Nayak the SC observed that the ultimately it’s the court which decides whether right to speedy trial has been denied or not. Everytime when proceedings cannot be quashed as it might not be in interest of the society. In the case Madheshwardhari Singh v. State of Bihar it was held that all criminal prosecutions are now inalienable fundamental rights to citizens. Moreover, in the case Arun Kumar Ghosh v. State of Bengal it was held that mental torture and anxiety suffered by an accused for a long length of time is to be treated ad punishment inflicted on him.

The judicial capacity and capability is judged by the time taken for disposal of the cases. There are many scams and frauds which needs to be disposed off as quick as possible but this is not the case in India. For e.g. Harshad Mehta scam took about 6years for the pronouncement of the decision when he already died while at the same time a scandal in Singapore Nick leeson of barring company which was decided in 2years. This shows how the delay in justice providing system works in the favor of judicial system. So, should be certain measures to check it like:-

• Effective management of the courts and this is possible only when once in a couple of months or days problems faced by the litigants, lawyers and judges is discussed. Time scheduling should be done so that there is effective management of time leading to effective management of judicial system.

• Malimath committee: The main aim of this committee is to make recommendation for reformation on Criminal justice system, simplifying judicial procedures, practices and making the delivery of justice to the common man closer.

• Judges should be provided with proper training and vocations on a regular basis to improvise there drafting, hearing and writing skills along with the skill of taking correct and fast judgment. Judicial accountability is one of them is important factor.

• Moreover, the ratio of judges to population should be increased which will help in disposal of cases very fast.

• Cases must be assigned according to specialized area of judges. Assigning cases without taking into consideration the specialization leads to delay. Mo

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