The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to not only install video conferencing facilities between courts and prisons but also maintain them for use in case of need. A bench of justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav gave the direction while hearing a plea by an Aurangabad arms haul case accused Shaikh Abdul Naeem, who claimed that he was not being produced in the court due to lack of escort police. In December 2016, the high court had directed the state government’s home department to ensure that all courts in the state have video conferencing facilities by March this year.
In February this year, the time given to the government was extended till October. Additional Public Prosecutor Mankuwar Deshmukh today told the court that the process was on and would be completed by the stipulated time. “It is not sufficient to just install video conference facilities but it has to be maintained also. If the installed VCs are not working due to lack of maintenance, what is the point in having the facility?” Justice Savant asked. The court pointed out that out of 583 VCs 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 government will have to complete the process within the given time frame. So many undertrials are languishing in jails because they are not produced in the court for their case hearings due to lack of escort security guards,” Justice Jadhav said. The bench has directed the inspector general of prisons or his sub-ordinate to file an affidavit within two weeks.