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Do we need fast track courts?

January 23, 2013

A FAST-track court has been set up to try the five adults accused in New Delhi’s gang-rape case which rocked India. These types of courts were set up in India in 2001 and since then some three million cases have been disposed of.

This is quite impressive, keeping in mind the population size and number of cases in India. Is it not time for Pakistan to initiate fast-track courts on the same lines, as terrorism and crime against women is on the high and keeps mounting in this country?

Although anti-terrorism courts were set up in Pakistan by previous regimes, proceedings in these courts move at a snail’s speed due to reluctance of witnesses not coming forward for obvious reasons, and the police and law-enforcement agencies not finding enough evidence against culprits.

At the end of the day most of these cases go cold and lose significance, thus providing enough excuses and justifications to the accused to go scott-free.

If the type of cases involving terrorism and assaults on women are moved on a fast track and disposed of early, there is less chance for the accused to forge proofs and buy out witnesses with threats or otherwise.

We have to remember that a culprit in the act of terrorism is not always alone, they ought to have a network which ensures they do not get conviction and punishment and after the arrests, those networks work towards that goal.

Extreme care should, however, be taken in fast track cases where it must be ensured that the due process of the law has been followed and that the accused is given an impartial, full and fair chance to face the trial as unnecessary haste may hinder with justice and objectivity.

Another aspect is the appealing process where again a lot of time is wasted in the process of appeals. An appeal process should also be devised matching the fast-track case hearing process where appeals are heard and disposed of quickly.

Let us hope the next elected government has the guts to deal with home-grown terrorism and crimes against women and children, and Pakistan would become a safe place for everyone.

ANAS A. KHAN Canada