The Bombay high court on Thursday summoned an officer of the state finance department for failing to set up additional fast-track courts to try crimes against women as directed by the Supreme Court despite the central government having released funds worth Rs 80 crore for the same.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice MS Sonak has asked the officer concerned to remain present in court today. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on the need to set up more fast-track courts for cases relating to offences against women, filed by social activist Vihar Durve on March 6.
The HC had earlier rapped the state government for its lackadaisical attitude in setting up more such courts.
Information obtained by Durve shows that the government has been sitting on requests by the high court to create 10 per cent additional posts in district courts to try offences against women. On Thursday, Parag Vyas, counsel for the central government, informed the court that the Centre had already released Rs 80 crore to the state government. To this, the chief justice asked, "Then why is the state government not creating and appointing an additional 10 per cent of posts in fast-track courts?"
Using the Right to Information Act, Durve obtained information that 56,011 cases relating to offences against women were pending before the sessions and magistrate courts, which he conveyed to the HC.
Durve's petition states that the apathy continues despite repeated requests from the HC, following a 2012 Supreme Court directive. Durve's advocate N Bubna pointed out to the court that despite the HC order in March, the government had not filed an affidavit furnishing details of existing courts and the number of judges' posts in the state.
Since May 2010, the HC has been exchanging communications with the state on the matter, but the government kept raising queries. The proposal is now pending before the finance department, which has sought further clarifications.