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Bombay HC seeks Maharashtra govt's response on plea for voice and video call facilities for prison inmates

Following the Covid 19 pandemic, the prison authorities from July 2020 had started the voice and video call facilities for inmates to communicate with their families and lawyers.

Urvi Mahajani | Updated on: Monday, May 02, 2022, 04:22 PM IST

Bombay HC  | Photo: Representative Image
Bombay HC | Photo: Representative Image
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“You must use technology. Why have you discontinued the video call facility?” asked the Bombay High Court Monday while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) which sought the resumption of voice and video call facilities for prison inmates with their families and lawyers.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice V G Bisht asked the Maharashtra government to file its reply to the plea saying that it was an “important matter”.

"This is an important matter. Not everybody can go to prison...Why can't the video and voice call facilities be allowed,” CJ Datta said.

The HC was hearing a PIL filed by NGO 'People's Union for Civil Liberties' stating that the government and prison authorities arbitrarily and abruptly stopped the voice and video call facilities in 2021.

Following the Covid 19 pandemic, the prison authorities from July 2020 had started the voice and video call facilities for inmates to communicate with their families and lawyers.

As per the Model Prison Manual issued in 2016, the Superintendent of each jail has to allow the prisoners to use telephones and electronic communications in payment to contact their family members and lawyers, the plea states.

The PIL prays that the court quashes the government’s decision to discontinue the voice and video call facilities since the same violates the fundamental rights of the inmates.

Besides, discontinuation of such facilities and permitting only physical meetings puts the family members and counsels to unnecessary hardships, states the plea. The facilities were very convenient for those inmates and their family members who are lodged outside their place of residence.

The HC asked the additional public prosecutor AR Patil to take necessary instructions from the government and kept the PIL for further hearing on May 4.

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Published on: Monday, May 02, 2022, 04:22 PM IST