NEW DELHI: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Kohima bench of the Guwahati High Court by the Human Rights Law Network, Nagaland (HRLN) seeking directions from the Nagaland state government to “establish/re-establish Fast Track Courts (FTCs)” in the state.

A communique by HRLN informed that the bench heard and allowed the PIL on September 26, 2014, adding that “the matter is fixed on November 3, 2014 for the government to file the affidavit-in-opposition”.

Recalling the fact that two FTCs were established in the year 2003 at Kohima and Dimapur districts in order to try pending criminal cases, the press note notified that these courts were functional till 2012.

However, it further lamented that the “State Cabinet of Ministers decided to discontinue them and in pursuant to it, the Government of Nagaland discontinued all the FTCs in the State of Nagaland and consequently, cases pertaining to crime against women were transferred to the Family Court.” .

This was done “vide impugned Office Memorandum NO. CAB-2/ 2008 (PT) dated 18/09/2012 -2/ 2008 (PT) dated 18/09/2012”, the press note mentioned.

In this regard, even the Naga Mother’s Association (NMA) had submitted a representation to the governor on July 13, 2013 requesting him to immediately retract the decision of the government and again set up the FTCs in all the districts since there was an alarming rise in crimes against women and children in the state.

NMA also submitted another representation to the chief minister on July 19, 2013 seeking a review of the cabinet decision that revoked the functioning of FTCs.

The press statement also divulged information pertaining to the fact that Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of justice had, on On May 28, 2014, written to the state law/home department asking it to implement the decisions taken in the conference of chief ministers of the states and chief justices of High Courts held on April 7, 2014 in Delhi.

The decisions taken during the conference include taking immediate steps to set up suitable number of FTCs relating to offences against women, children, differently-abled persons, senior citizens and marginalized sections of society.

The HRLN statement further added that the registrar, GHC, Kohima Bench conveyed to the department of justice & law, Nagaland on June 24, 2014 that the GHC had rejected the proposal of the state government for declaring the family courts as the special courts for cases pertaining to crime against women.

It also said that crimes against women like rape, molestation were on a steep rise and a “daily routine in Nagaland and several such cases are pending in various Courts…” It further stated that the “slow legal system in disposing such cases has made sexual offenders remain unpunished thereby encouraging other like minded criminals to commit similar offences without hesitation”.

Terming the state government’s decision to club together the FTCs with Family Courts, as a “mockery” and “against the directives of the Supreme Court and the Central Government”, the petitioner requested the High Court to quash and set aside the impugned cabinet decision on discontinuance of FTCs and restore them in all the districts as per the national policy.

The petition further called for an enquiry headed by a retired/sitting Judge to find out why the Nagaland state government had closed down the FTCs in Kohima and Dimapur districts and transferred the cases of FTCs to Family Courts “without the permission of the Hon’ble Court in violation of the established legal procedures.”