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Chouhan urges CJI to set up ‘fast track higher courts’ for rape cases

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has urged the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to set up ‘fast track higher courts’ or evolve any other mechanism to expedite hearings in rape cases. The move comes after several incidents of rape of minors in the central state were reported.

Chouhan, in his letter written yesterday, said, “As a representative of a large population of this country, I request the Chief Justice of India to look into the issues to expedite the hearing of appeals of rape cases by setting up Fast Track Higher Courts or an arrangement in the current hearing system to accord high priority to such cases.” The chief minister said he was writing the letter as some incidents of rape in the country had created an uproar among people in general, and a “feeling of distress” in his mind.

The menace of rape has shaken the conscience of the common man, he said. “I personally believe that a girl child is a form of Goddess Durga and therefore, I start my development projects by offering obeisance to the girl child and have utmost respect for women,” Chouhan wrote. He said Madhya Pradesh was the first state in country to pass a bill providing death penalty to rape convicts, who committed the offence on girls below the age of 12 years. “However, stringent penal provisions in law seem to un-deter a few hardcore criminal-minded people, who do not seem to be afraid of getting punished by the system.”

In support of his plea, he said, “…In the Indore case, the investigation was completed in seven days and trial in another 22 days. But unless and until appeals are decided by high courts and the apex court expeditiously, justice cannot be said to be done.” The Indore district court had on May 12 awarded death penalty to a 26-year-old man for rape and murder of a three-month-old girl, while likening him to “gangrene”.

The accused had abducted the girl while her parents were asleep in the early hours of April 20, the police had earlier said. After raping the girl, the accused had banged her head on the ground and killed her. Chouhan said he does not imply that an accused does not have a right to fair trial. But, a speedy trial reduces the psychological sufferings of a rape victim and also sets an example for others.

On June 26, an eight-year-old girl was lured away by two men while she was waiting for her father outside her school in Mandsaur district. The two men allegedly raped the girl, slit her throat with a knife and left her to die, the police had earlier said. She is currently undergoing treatment at Indore’s Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital.

There was huge public uproar and several protests after the incident. On July 1, a four-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 23-year-old man known to her family at a village in the state’s Satna district. The accused abandoned the severely injured girl after committing the crime, the police said.

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