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No funds for fast track courts in State

SHILLONG: Though there is demand from several quarters including from Chairperson of State Women’s Commission, Theilin Phanbuh, to set up fast track courts in Meghalaya for speedy disposal of cases in the wake of spurt in crimes against women and children, paucity of funds has delayed the matter for the last one year.
An official source said that the State government, in April 2015, was compelled to discontinue the fast track courts set up in Shillong, Tura, Jowai and another Special Court set up in Nongstoin to try rape cases due to paucity of funds.
Earlier, fast track courts in the State which were headed by retired judges worked on funds provided by the Union government; however, in 2010, the Centre discontinued funding and the State government took on the endeavour to fund the fast track courts from 2010 till 2015.
The official source added that the Centre has left it to the State to continue with the fast track courts at its own expenditure.
The existence of the fast track took a different turn when the State government had to stop the funding due to paucity of funds. Separation of judiciary from executive was another reason.
According to sources, at least Rs 20 lakh is required per annum for maintaining a fast track court in the State.
Rape cases and other crimes against women are now dealt with by sessions Judge following the discontinuation of fast track courts. But the cases are very often adjourned resulting in delay in delivery of justice to the victims.
According to Phanbuh, there is a need to revive fast track courts in the State considering the rise of crime against women and less convictions cases that has emboldened criminals.
“Fast track court was discontinued due to lack of funds and looking at the present dire situation, the system needs to be revived,” she demanded.
On Saturday, the Joint Action Committee of Seng Kynthei Upper Shillong demanded the establishment of fast track courts to try rape cases in the State.
With the recent rape of a 19 year old girl from Upper Shillong still making headlines, the residents and  NGOs have tried to strike the iron while it’s hot by calling for setting up of fast track courts to try several cases and for creating a helpline to help a woman in need.
On the other hand, with the name and photographs of the recent victim of rape and murder being displayed in banners during rallies and candle vigils, it caught the attention of the Meghalaya State Commission for Women which took exception to this.
“Identity of the rape victim must be protected and there should be efforts not to reveal the name in the media at all costs,” said chairperson of the Commission.
This comes in the wake of the rape and murder of the 19 year old girl from Upper Shillong on March 17, which led to a display of solidarity and candlelight vigils where her name and photographs were displayed.
This did not go too well with Phanbuh who was aggrieved with the display of pictures and have told people to not reveal the identity of the victim.
“Revealing the name of the victim is all due to ignorance of the public,” she said.

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