The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the state government to submit a status report on the project for installing video conferencing units in courts across the state.
A bench of Justices VM Kanade and Nutan Sardessai said failure to produce the accused before courts was a major cause of delay in trials, and so, about a decade ago, the government had inaugurated its plan to equip all courts in the state with video conferencing facilities.
The bench said the government had claimed that this facility would help reduce the state’s fuel costs by Rs15 lakh per day. “However, even after so many years, few courts use this system and undertrials continue to complain that they are not produced in court,” the bench said.
The bench was hearing a suo moto PIL based on a letter written in 2011 by Shaikh Abdul Naeem, an accused in the Aurangabad arms haul case, who claimed that he was not being produced in court due to lack of police personnel and vehicles equipped to escort him to court. Naeem had also sought video conferencing facilities for his production before the court.
The state’s counsel Mankunwar Deshmuk told the bench that out of 473 courts in state, the facility has been installed in 320. However, out of these, only a 100-odd were currently operational since the rest were battling problems like frequent power cuts and scarce technicians to handle the VC equipment.