The court accepted the state’s contention and asked it to file an affidavit within two weeks.
Mumbai: When questioned by the Bombay high court about the delay in implementing video conferencing (VC) facilities in all jails and courts in the state by October, as assured earlier, the state responded saying that VC facilities remained to be installed in just 187 out of nearly 700 locations, and tenders for the same had been floated. The court accepted the state’s contention and asked it to file an affidavit within two weeks.
A division bench of justices R.M. Savant and S.S. Jadhav was hearing a criminal public interest litigation (PIL) where under-trials had complained of not being produced in court. The high court took cognisance of the same and directed the state to expedite installation of VC facilities in all courts and jails in the state, giving a March 2017 deadline for compliance. On Tuesday when the matter came up for hearing, the state informed the court that 187 locations remained for which tenders had been floated.
However, the court was not satisfied with the reply and chided the government for dragging its feet on implementing its previous directions and also not complying with the March deadline. Additional public prosecutor Mankuwar Deshmukh informed the court that the state had been taking all steps to ensure it complied with court orders and said that a previous bench had granted extension till October by which time, the process would be completed.
After hearing Deshmukh’s submissions, the bench said that merely installing VCs was not sufficient and that they should also be maintained. “It is not sufficient to just install video conferencing facilities but they have to be maintained as well. If the installed VCs are not working due to lack of maintenance, what is the point in having the facility?” questioned justice Savant. Deshmukh said that the concerned authorities would be informed about the court’s observations. The bench then directed the inspector general of prisons to file an affidavit within two weeks.