Asserting that not producing undertrial prisoners in court due to lack of police escorts constitutes a violation of fundamental rights of the prisoners, the Bombay high court on Wednesday sought assistance from the police and prison authorities in finding a feasible solution.
A division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar requested the deputy commissioner of police (armed force) and officers from the office of the director general of police (DGP) and prison authority to meet them and discuss the issue.
The court said that, with the assistance of these officers, it will formulate guidelines to ensure that undertrial prisoners are produced in courts. "Their (police) difficulties also need to be taken into account," said justice Desai.
The court asked public prosecutor Pandurang Pol to tell officers to come prepared for the meeting with all the required data including the number of undertrial prisoners, number of jails, number of vehicles available to bring prisoners to court and jails and courts where video conferencing facilities are available.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Shaikh Abdul Naeem Shaikh, an accused in the Aurangabad arms haul case. Shaikh had sent a letter through Arthur Road Central Prison, where he is lodged since his arrest on May 7, 2007, stating that they are often not produced before the court due to shortage in the number of police escorts.
An affidavit was filed by Rajendra Dhamne, jailor of Arthur Road Central Prison, saying 300-350 undertrials are produced in courts daily. And, 30-40 prisoners are produced through video conferencing. Dhamne's affidavit states they are provided less than 50% of the required number of police escorts. "The jail authority is completely dependent on police machinery for escorts," adds the affidavit.