Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said in Rajya Sabha that he has appealed to chief justices of high courts to ensure expeditious trial and release undertrials who have completed half of their sentences.
In a reply during Question Hour, he said, "I have written to the chief justices of the high courts. Undertrial prisoners who under 436 A have completed 50 per cent or more of the detention, they should be released. There is a review committee for it. The court has to take the decision."
Replying to a supplementary, he said the government's role is to provide infrastructure for speedy trial.
He said for speedy disposal of cases related to crime against women and others, 704 fast-track courts have been set up.
"For crime like rape, women-related violence and those under Pocso Act, we have proposed 1,023 fast-track courts. Sixteen states have accepted the proposals. It has been agreed upon to establish 420 courts and 121 have started functioning," he said.
To ensure speedy trial of cases, the government has made 469 appointments in high courts in last 5.5 years.
Mr Prasad said about 5,000 posts of subordinate judiciary are vacant and neither the Centre nor the states has any role in filling up these vacancies.
He added: "It falls under purview of either High Court or Public Service Commission. We have written repeatedly to Chief Justice of India and Chief Justices of High Courts to take steps."
In reply to a supplementary, Mr Prasad said regarding criminal cases in Uttar Pradesh, a request has been made to the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court to dispose of such cases against political leaders at the earliest. He added only a properly constituted court can discharge criminal cases based on evidence whether to convict or acquit.
He said: "We need to reinforce the legal aid system. From 2015 till December 3, 2019, a total of 10,172,630 criminal cases has been disposed of. We need to expedite it."
Mr Prasad said as per National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 1.52 lakh criminal cases relating to crime against women have been disposed of during 2017.
He said the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act has been enacted making the punishment for offence like rape more stringent by including death penalty for rape of a girl below the age of 12 years.
He said the Act also inter alia mandates completion of investigation and trial within two months each.
Further, in order to ensure that the amendments in the law effectively translate at ground level, and to enhance women safety in the country, the government has taken a number of steps including ''Investigation tracking system for sexual offences''.