On Monday, the Bombay High Court sought the Maharashtra government’s answer to a public interest case demanding the reinstatement of voice and video call capabilities for jail prisoners to interact with family members and legal counsels.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice V G Bisht stated that this was a crucial issue because not everyone could see an offender in jail.
The court ordered Additional Public Prosecutor A R Patil to obtain directions from the government and scheduled a hearing for May 4th.
The appeal, submitted by the non-governmental organisation ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties,’ stated that the facility of voice and video conversations for jail prisoners was arbitrarily and unexpectedly discontinued in 2021.
As per the petition, during the COVID-19 epidemic in July 2020, prisons began offering voice and video call services to inmates.
According to the petition, under the Model Prison Manual established in 2016, the superintendent of each jail must enable convicts to use telephones and electronic communications for a fee to contact family members and attorneys.
The petition requested that the government’s decision to discontinue phone and video call services be annulled and set aside because it violated the convicts’ fundamental rights.
The decision to discontinue phone and video call services and allow only physical meetings places undue burdens on the detainees’ family members and legal counsel, according to the plea.
The petition also stated that voice and video communications are useful for convicts who are housed in jails other than their homes.