Amid increasing reports of crimes against women in the state, the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Monday cleared a proposal to set up 218 new fast-track courts, many of them to hear cases of sexual offences against children.
Of the total 218 courts, 144 will hear cases of rape, while 74 will examine cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, State Law Minister Brajesh Pathak told reporters.
At present, the state has 81 fast-track courts to hear cases related to women, Mr Pathak told PTI.
Now, the cases of rape will get transferred to the new fast-track courts, he said.
"The UP Cabinet has decided that 218 fast-track courts will be set up for the hearing of cases of rape and crimes committed on children," he said.
He said 218 posts of additional sessions judge have been created for the new fast-track courts. Posts for other court staff will also be created.
He said 60 per cent of the cost will be borne by the Centre and the remaining 40 per cent by the state government.
"An estimated expenditure of Rs 75 lakh will be incurred on each of the new fast-track courts," Mr Pathak said.
As of now, over 42,000 cases of crimes committed against children are pending in courts, while the number of cases of rape and sexual assault pending is more than 25,000.
When asked whether the death of the Unnao rape victim prompted the UP government to take this step, Mr Pathak said, "The setting up of courts was to eventually happen, but we showed extra swiftness and expedited the process. This has been done seeing the current scenario in the country".
The move by the UP government comes days after a 23-year-old Unnao woman, who was allegedly raped last year, was set ablaze. She succumbed to the injuries in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital on Friday night.
The death led to nationwide outrage, with her family members demanding that the perpetrators be "chased and killed" as in the Hyderabad police encounter with four men accused in a similar case.
Opposition parties accused the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh of failing to provide security to victims of sexual violence.
Five men, including the two who had allegedly raped her, were arrested after she was set ablaze. One of them was out on bail for the same crime.
Brajesh Pathak said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed concern at the cabinet meeting over crime against women.
Several other cases of crime against women have also been reported in the state in recent days.
A teenager was allegedly raped and set ablaze in Sambhal district, days before the Hyderabad case. She died in hospital.
In Muzaffarnagar district, a 30-year-old woman faced an acid attack by four men for refusing to withdraw a rape complaint.
A man allegedly raped his daughter in Bahraich and in Bijnor another man was accused of raping his niece.
A man was arrested in Pratapgarh for allegedly raping a 14-year-old hearing impaired girl.