The state government has decided to expand the video-conferencing link between jails and courts through the internet in order to cover all 63 prisons in the state.
Reviewing the prison department’s performance, minister for jails Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhayya said the project should be expedited as it would help in vastly improving the jail administration.
It would also cut the risk of undertrials escaping or being attacked in transit, instances that are quite common at present.
The use of information technology would also help in minimising expenditure and manpower. The first such video-conferencing was held in Lucknow in October 2011 when alleged mafioso Abu Salem, who is lodged in a Mumbai jail, made web appearance before a CBI court in Lucknow in fake passport case. Later, the department also conducted similar exercises in Allahabad, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Kanpur, Ghaziabad and Meerut. The central government had amended the criminal procedure code (CrPC) in 2010 to enable the courts and jails to present the prisoners through video-conferencing.
There are nearly 89,000 prisoners in the largely overcrowded 63 jails of UP which have a capacity to house only 46,000 inmates. On an average, nearly 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners are moved from various jails to the courts for appearance every day.
The minister has also asked for installation of separate power feeders for electricity supply to the jails. He said the inmates should be served good food and directed the jail officers to behave property with the prisoners. In order to decongest the jails, the department has already started construction of 10 new prisons in Kaushambi, Kannauj, Balrampur, Sonbhadra, Baghpat, Noida, Bareilly, Chitrakoot, Kanshiram Nagar and Shravasti. The minister also directed the officers to utilise the annual budget properly. He said the allocated funds should be surrendered to the government because of non-utilisation. Principal secretary, jails, RM Shrivastava said a plan for more amenities to the jail officials would soon be finalised. He said norms for food for inmates would also be amended to improve the situation further.