High court wants video conferencing in all courts across Maharashtra by March 2017

The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra state government to install video conference facility in all courts by the end of the first quarter of next calendar year.

Start video conferencing services in all courts across Maharastra by March 2017, was the direction given by the Bombay High Court to State Government on Tuesday.

These directions came while the division bench of Justices VM Kanade and Nutan Sardesai was a hearing a criminal PIL filed in 2011 after court took into consideration a letter written by Shaikh Abdul Naeem, one of the accused in the Aurangabad Arms Haul case.

Naeem’s letter alleged that he was not being produced before the concerned sessions/ special court because of non-availability of police personnel to escort him. Slowly, during the course of the hearing then Public Prosecutor PA Pol had submitted before the bench former Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Ranjana Desai in 2011, that while there is shortage of escort personnel, lack of video conferencing facilities is a significant problem. While the court has time and again passed directions in the last five years to ensure installation of video conferencing facilities, progress has been slow.

A division bench of Justices VM Kanade and Nutan Sardessai was informed by the High Court administration that out of 2,200 courts in the state video conference facilities have not been installed in 248 courts due to certain difficulties which have been brought to the notice of the state government.

Advocate SR Nargolkar, appearing for the HC administration, said all other courts in the state have video conference facilities and accused can be produced before the court from jail on video conference.

The bench noted that out of 248 courts, some are in Mumbai, Yavatmal and Wardha. “The state government shall ensure that all courts in the state should have video conference facility by March 2017. The advantages of this facility are many,” the court said.

Referring to a study conducted by the Maharashtra Judicial Academy the main reason for delay in disposal of cases is non-production of the accused before the concerned court. “This non-production of the accused is mainly because of lack of police personnel to escort the accused or non-availability of transportation,” the court said.

“With video conference facility, not only will there be expeditious disposal of cases but also a reduction in the expenditure incurred by the state government in producing the accused persons in jail,” Justice Kanade said.

When Nargolkar informed the court that the state government had earlier said that the facility would be installed on priority basis due to paucity of funds, Justice Kanade said, “They (state government) have plenty of funds. Paucity of funds is not the problem. The problem is they are spending it at the wrong place.” (With Inputs from PTI)

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