Cuttack, Feb. 20: In a bid to minimise the instances of prisoners escape, the state government has decided to introduce videoconferencing facility in three jails and their corresponding lower courts next month.
The state government, in an affidavit submitted to Orissa High Court on Tuesday, said work on the project had started and the facility would be introduced in three circle jails in Cuttack (Choudwar), Bhubaneswar and Berhampur by March 31 in the first phase. Three other (circle) jails would be covered in the next phase.
The home department submitted the affidavit after the high court directed it to respond to a PIL on jail reforms.
With the new facility in place, police personnel would be spared from the responsibility of ferrying undertrial prisoners from jails to court for hearings.
Thanks to the video conferencing facility, the prisoners would be produced before the magistrates concerned and direct hearings would be conducted from the jail premises.
For the system to start, the lower courts would need studios with videoconferencing facilities connected to jails through satellite links.
A committee, headed by inspector-general of prisons, has entrusted Electronics Company of India Ltd to link the three jails with the lower courts. Once the new system is in place, senior jail officers believe, several personnel engaged in escorting prisoners would be available for other duties.
In Cuttack, Berhampur and Bhubaneswar jails nearly 200 undertrial prisoners are listed for production before magistrates every day. Several of them are not produced before the court due to non-availability of escorts. They are taken to the courts in large numbers, causing overcrowding of vehicles. The Centre, in September 2007, had amended the CrPC and issued circulars to states to go ahead with videoconferencing facilities.