New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday said it would be shortly evolving a mechanism for the speedy hearing of cases of sexual and other criminal offences against women.
A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Vikramjit Sen said this to a mention for an early hearing of a 2005 petition challenging the acquittal of 35 people, accused of gang-raping a 16-year-old girl for 40 days in 1996, by the Kerala High Court. This case came to be known as Survanelli rape case.
"We are contemplating to evolve a mechanism for speedy hearing of cases relating to sexual offences against women within a week," the court said as a plea for an early hearing of the Survanelli rape case was mentioned before it.
The apex court's move is in line with the Jan 5 letter by Chief Justice Kabir asking the chief justices of all high courts to fast track cases of sexual and other criminal offences against the women by the subordinate courts as well the high courts.
The letter, pointing out that a large number of cases of crime against women were pending in various high courts and trial courts and there was a marked increase of such cases in recent times, said that "on account of such delay, deterrence pales into insignificance".
"Time has come when these cases have to be dealt with expeditiously, lest we should fail in our endeavour to arrest the sharp increase of crimes of violence against women, the letter said.
A total of 42 men were accused in the Suryanelli rape case, and on Sep 6, 2000, a special court convicted 35 of them and sentenced them to varying terms of rigorous imprisonment.
However, the Kerala High Court acquitted all of them but one, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
The apex court was moved in 2005 challenging the acquittal of all the accused and since then the appeal is pending for final hearing.