MUMBAI: After 111 days of the nationwide lockdown, more then 26,000 prisoners across the state in 60 jails will now be able to communicate to their lawyers about their cases. Since the lockdown, the Wakeel-Qaidi mulaqat was stopped in all the jails to avoid the Covid-19 infection.
Hearing a PIL, the Bombay high court has directed the Prison department to install smartphones in jails and arrange Lawyer-prisoner meeting through video calling in all the jails.
The entry of all the visitors in jail premises was prohibited since lockdown was announced. “There were several difficulties for prisoners who could not communicate to their lawyers. Now once the video calling facility begins, it will help them to talk to their lawyers about their cases,” said a lawyer.
Since the lockdown, more than 10,000 prisoners have been released from various jails under different schemes. As on today, there are 26,000 inmates in 50 plus jails in the state.
A source from the jail department said that they have created dedicated email IDs for each prison. A lawyer can visit the website www.mahaprisons.gov.in and send e-mail to the concerned jail authorities. An email may contain an Inmate’s name, cell or barrack number, court case number, etc. Once the jail authorities sanction the e-meeting, a time will be allotted to the lawyer when he can communicate to his client for a maximum of 10 minutes.
“It will be time and cost effective,” said an official from the Prison department. Prior to this, a lawyer or family members would have to come to the jail, get themselves registered in the Mulaqat register and then they would be able to meet an inmate.
On May 12, a special NIA court had directed the superintendent of the Arthur Road jail to arrange video conferencing facility for an accused whose mother had passed away. “The court had directed the jail official to arrange it so that the inmate could attend his mother’s last rites virtually,” said advocate Shahid Nadeem.
A jail source said that they have the capacity to arrange video call facility for 300 prisoners a day in one jail. More mobile phones could be installed, if required, he said.
Last month, the jail authorities have already begun video calling meeting between inmates and their family members. For this purpose, 55 smartphones in over three dozen jails are have been installed. Besides this, the phone calling facility through coin boxes have also been started from jails. Prisoners, lodged in various jails, can make phone calls from 60 coin boxes to their relatives.



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