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Maharashtra jails and courts to have video conferencing facility by March

bombay-high-courtMUMBAI: The state home department has nearly completed the task of installing video conference facilities in all 49 jails and 200-odd courtrooms across the state. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of March.

This means that convicts and undertrials usually escorted to court and back, will no longer be required to.

Principal secretary (home) Vijay Satbir Singh said that the video conference facility has been installed in all jails and most courtrooms as part of reforms in jail administration. “The entire exercise is nearly complete. We expect the new technology to be operational by March 31 this year,” Singh told TOI on Thursday.

Elaborating on the Rs 6 crore proposal, Singh said that, in the past, several hurdles have been encountered while taking convicts and undertrials to courts, owing to non-availability of police personnel and vehicles. “On occasions, we were unable to shift prisoners from jails to court since security personnel were not available. Now, with the installation of the video conference in jail and courts, there will be no need to shift undertrials to courts,” said Singh.

He said that while installation of video conference facility in nine central jails and 49 district jails has been completed, setting up a similar facility in 200-odd court rooms will be completed soon. “In consultation with authorities, all courtrooms have been identified and we expect to complete the work in a time-bound manner. A huge screen and laptop will be provided in the courtroom,” he said.

A doctor-turned-bureaucrat, Singh said that besides jail reforms, it has been proposed to provide better health care to the 25,000 -odd jail inmates. “We have hospitals in some central jails. We are in the process of providing more health care in all jails,” said Singh.Singh said there was an urgent need to set up an independent health care directorate for jails and police administration. “Once we develop better health facilities, we will not be required to take prisoners to a civic hospital for treatment,” he said.Singh added that the home department has knocked at the doors of the woman and child welfare department to set up aanganwadis in major jails. “While women are in jail, their children are neglected. If we set up aanganwadis, we can provide them basic education.”

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