The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bandobast burden too beefy
- Govt seeks video conference, court in jail to cut security costs

Rupees 17,000 and plenty of problems — that’s what it’s costing the government to take Aftab Ansari to court every time. Ansari and eight others accused of attacking the American Center have to be provided with “special security”, as the case, dating back to January 22, 2002, has “international implications”.

Now, a cash-strapped and harried home department has petitioned Calcutta High Court, seeking permission to conduct video conference or set up temporary trial courts on the jail premises for sensitive and high-profile cases. Justice S.B. Roy of the high court will, on Wednesday, hear the matter on whether a trial can be conducted without the accused making the journey from a prison cell to a courtroom. State advocate-general Balai Ray will appear on behalf of the government.

Citing problems faced by the government while producing Aftab Ansari before a trial bench in the city civil and sessions court, the petition stated that the detective department of the city police had recently received a tip-off that a plan had been hatched to hijack Ansari on his way to court, or back to jail.

“The state government has to take on a huge financial burden to give Ansari adequate security, as he travels to and from the court for his trial. After receiving the warning, the police have had to take all possible measures to avoid any untoward incident,” the petition added.

The government went on to observe how four vans of armed police, two jeeps and two convoy vehicles, carrying senior police officers, have to stay put at the city civil and sessions court every time the American Center case comes up for hearing. A large police picket also has to be posted, and doctors have to be kept on hand. Ansari is also a key accused in the Khadim’s abduction case, which, too, stretches far beyond the borders of Bengal. For this, he will face trial at the Alipore courts, compounding the pressure on the security network.

The petition also mentions how an accused in the Bunty murder case had been “snatched” from a police van while on his way to court. “These problems can be solved only if the accused in important cases are not brought to court. This can either be done if a video conference facility is introduced or if the judge holds a temporary trial court on the jail campus,” an official concluded.

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