The government has decided to install video conferencing facility in all jails across the state with an aim to expedite trial of criminal cases.
Work on the first phase of the project has already begun.
Often, trials are adjourned on account of the failure of the undertrials to reach court on scheduled dates due to the lack of police escort. With the installation of the video conferencing facility, the problem of transportation can be done away with.
The state government’s took the decision following an order from the Bombay High Court on November 17.
Acting on the pleas of two undertrial prisoners, Ravi Gawli and Sunil Gaikwad, the court had directed the home secretary to devise a plan of action to ensure that the accused are produced in court on scheduled dates.
As of now, of the 25 district prisons the facility is available at only two — Akola and Chandrapur. At the same time, video conferencing facility exists at all the nine central prisons, with the exception of the newly constructed central prison at Taloja.
During the course of hearing on the petitions on November 17, public prosecutor Pandurang Pol told the HC that in the first phase, the facility would be provided at Taloja central prison and district prisons at Kalyan, Bhandara, Yevatmal, Vardha, Osmanabad, Nanded and Solapur.
Some lawyers agreed that the disposal of cases would be fast but at the same time, said that using video conferencing instead of producing accused in court might prejudice their cases.
“Disposal of the cases would be fast. However, the applications of the accused for various reliefs would take longer time to reach the trial courts, as those would require to be routed through the jail administration,” said lawyer Khan Abdul Wahab.
Retired judge B.G. Kolse-Patile also welcomed the decision. He, however, said there could not be any alternate arrangement to producing the accused persons in court.
“Personal presence of the accused makes a lot of difference,” he said, suggesting that a separate dedicated force should be set up to escort undertrials.
The HC, in the same order of November 17, ordered the state to appoint a new Director of Prosecution by December 7.