Odisha on Monday got its first fast-track court here to deal exclusively with cases of sexual offences against women.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had last month announced that the state would fast track such cases to provide speedy justice to victims of sexual assault.
Acting Chief Justice of Odisha Pradeep K Mohanty inaugurated a special (fast-track) court inside the Cuttack district court complex. This is the first such court in the state, where an assistant sessions judge would preside over the cases of sexual offences inviting punishment of less than ten years of imprisonment.
High court sources informed that 27 such courts would be inaugurated throughout the state by February 15 and by the end of the current year, these special courts would have infrastructure and manpower of their own. Till then, the courts would be manned by the existing staff at the disposal of each district court.
All new and pending cases of sexual assault will be transferred to these courts for trial and disposal of the matters as quickly as possible. The state government took the decision to set up these courts following widespread protests over the gang rape incident in Delhi.
Those assistant sessions judges, who were only doing their administrative jobs till now, are being asked to preside over these courts in addition to their previous assignments, sources said.
According to reports, as many as 1,025 rape cases were registered in the state in 2010 and the same figure went up to 1,112 in 2011.
Cuttack district and sessions judge Shatrughna Pujahari said all trials of rape cases in these special courts would be held 'in camera' in order to keep the identity of the victims under veil, as per the provisions of the CrPC.
Cases pertaining to 376 (rape) and 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) of IPC and other sexual offences against women would be transferred to these special courts soon, he added.