NEWS-INDIA: Videoconferencing facility between Andhra jails and courts

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  • Subject: NEWS-INDIA: Videoconferencing facility between Andhra jails and courts
  • From: Frederick Noronha <fred at bytesforall dot org>
  • Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 23:09:35 +0530
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    • India-Andhra Pradesh-Prisoners
      
      Videoconferencing facility between Andhra jails and courts
      
      By Mohammed Shafeeq, India Abroad News Service
      
      Hyderabad, Dec 12 - Andhra Pradesh has become the first Indian state to
      provide videoconference links between jails and courts, a measure that will
      help 'produce' undertrials before magistrates without their physical
      presence.
      
      The video linkage facility between the Chanchalguda central jail, which has
      more than 1,600 undertrials, and the Nampally City Criminal Courts here has
      been provided by Stan Power Technologies at a cost of Rs.150,000.
      
      Television sets and digital video cameras have been installed at both the
      ends and connected through Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines.
      
      The facility, which will be available from new year, is likely to solve a
      major problem faced by police in providing armed escorts to undertrials
      while taking them from jails to courts. The shortage of escort personnel has
      also resulted in many undertrials languishing in jails without being
      produced in courts.
      
      State Governor C. Rangarajan has issued an ordinance that will help produce
      undertrials before a magistrate through videoconferencing. The ordinance has
      amended subsection 2 of the 167 Criminal Procedure Code, which will enable
      producing an accused before the magistrate concerned "either in person or
      through the medium of video linkage."
      
      The other benefits of the new system would be that the prisoners would have
      no chance to escape and a lot of time and money would be saved in
      transportation of remand prisoners to courts.
      
      About 1,000 constables are being used in the state everyday as escorts and
      they are paid escort allowance. The shortage of escort personnel often
      results in the remand prisoners not being produced before the courts. This
      has been delaying the cases. In the past, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had
      taken a serious note of the inordinate delay in the cases and had asked the
      government to take all necessary steps to ensure that the undertrials were
      produced on a given date.
      
      Home Minister T. Devender Goud said the electronic video linkage would ease
      the burden on the police forces. He said the National Human Rights
      Commission (NHRC) has appreciated the state government for providing this
      facility. "This is the first major step for bringing jail reforms," he said.
      
      The trials of the system were successfully conducted in October this year
      when the then chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, M.S. Liberhan,
      quizzed some undertrials in Chanchalguda central jail in Hyderabad.  The
      chief justice and some other judges, who were sitting in Nampally City
      Criminal Courts complex, interacted with a dozen remand prisoners and then
      gave the nod to the government for introducing the facility.
      
      The undertrials were hopeful that the videoconference facility would help in
      early disposal of cases. The undertrials are also expected to speak more
      freely with magistrates through this facility. Armed escorts, long waits at
      the court and the presence of magistrates and others have tremendous
      psychological pressure on undertrials when produced in person.
      
      With the successful demonstration of this facility in Hyderabad and the
      issuing of an ordinance, the state government is making arrangements to
      provide a similar facility in places like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam,
      Warangal, Chittoor and Karimnagar.
      
      --India Abroad News Service