The Bombay High Court Tuesday directed the state government to inform about the “road map” it plans to follow to ensure installing of video-conferencing facilities in all courts and prisons across the state. A division bench of Justice R M Savant and Justice Sadhana Jadhav was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Shaikh Abdul Naeem, an accused in the Aurangabad arms haul case, claiming he was not being produced in court due to lack of police personnel to escort the accused.
In December 2016, the High Court had directed the home department to ensure that all courts in the state have video-conferencing facility by March 2017. In February this year, the time given to the government was extended till October. Additional public prosecutor Mankuwar Deshmukh told the court that the process is on track and the state is working towards ensuring that the work gets completed according to the deadline.
Emphasising the need to provide such facilities, the court said that video-conferencing was required because of lack of police staff available for escorting prisoners to court. “In Mumbai especially, because of lack of availability of guards, prisoners can’t be produced in courts. Some of them languish in jails without framing of charges due to this,” said Justice Jadhav.
The court further said maintenance of such facilities was equally important. “It is not sufficient to just install video-conferencing facilities, but they have to be maintained also. If the installed system is not working due to lack of maintenance then what is the point of the facility,” said Justice Savant. The court pointed out that out of 583 video-conferencing facilities installed till now, only 63 are functional. “Give us a map or a chart which the state government would follow in the matter,” the court said. The bench has directed the Inspector General of Prisons or his sub-ordinate to file an affidavit within two weeks.