The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to furnish details of existing courts and the number of posts of judges in the state. The court was hearing a public interest litigation on the need to set up more fast-track courts to try cases relating to offences against women.
A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayed directed the government to file an affidavit in this regard within four weeks.
The PIL, which was filed by social activist Vihar Durve, has accused the state of not being serious in setting up additional courts for speedy disposal of cases involving crimes against women. The petition states that the apathy continues despite repeated requests from the HC, following a 2012 Supreme Court directive.
Information obtained by Durve under the Right to Information Act 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.
Since May 2010, the HC has been exchanging communications with the state on the matter, but the government has kept on raising one or the other query. The proposal is now pending before the finance department, which has sought further clarifications.
Speaking at the 150th anniversary of the Advocates Association of Western India in February, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had said that the government had constituted 100 fast-track courts in the state. "Thirteen special courts to try offences against women have already been set up and 12 more will be set up soon," he had said.
Meanwhile, the court also asked a former director of consultancy firm KPMG to initiate separate proceedings, challenging the appointment of Susie Shah as chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women.
The ex-director had sued her senior colleagues for sexual harassment at workplace. She had alleged that Shah, as a sitting member of the commission, had deliberately delayed hearing in her case.