MUMBAI: The number of functional Fast Track Courts hearing corruption cases against politicians has come down to almost half at 815 since 2000, an RTI query has revealed.
According to figures furnished by the Ministry of Law and Justice (GOI), in response to a RTI query by Mumbai-based activist Anil Galgali, a total of 1734 FTCs were approved to be set up across 29 states in 2000 of which only 1562 were found to be functional by March 2005. However, this figure of functional FCTs came down to 1192 in March 2011. This further dipped to 815 in 2014 as per the latest statistics. Only 815 FTCs were functioning from December 2010 to April 2014, it said.
Galgali had sought information from the PMO with relevant documents in this regard to know the number of functional FTCs which hears cases of corruption involving politicians. In reply, Prashant Kumar, First Appellate Authority said the PMO has not given any further instruction of setting up such courts in states as it is done on the behest of state governments and High Courts.
According to the figures provided, Bihar tops the list of states with 179 functional FTCs; Maharashtra comes second with 92 fast track courts. Only Delhi and Kerala have reversed the trend, with Delhi adding 10 new fast track courts and Kerala adding seven, taking its total from 31 in 2005 to 38 courts in 2014.
Gujarat closed down 63 fast track courts and its figure decreased from 166 in 2005 to 61 in February 2011. Statistics say that out of 85 FTCs in the state, Madhya Pradesh had 84 functional FTCs in December 2010, while West Bengal had 77 FTCs working in August 2014 despite the fact that 119 FTCs were functional in 2005. Andhra Pradesh is the only among the 29 states that set up more courts after 2000. It set up 86 courts in 2000 and all were functional in 2005. This number shot up to 108 in 2011 but finally came down to 72 in April 2014.
As per the information, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh are the only states where not a single FTC was operational. About 242 FTCs were functional in 2005 in UP but all were closed by March 2011. Now, Galgali has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding initiation of immediate action against states that have closed down the courts which are of extreme necessity to break the nexus of culprits and corrupt politicians.
"I have demanded that the Central government should call a meeting of CMs and Chief Secretaries of all states and instruct them to start fast track courts at the earliest," Galgali told PTI. He alleged that the promise of setting up FTCs was just another "jumla" (idiomatic expression) by the PM.