The Delhi High Court has been informed by the Delhi Government that to all the prisoners in Delhi, the facility of legal interviews with private counsels through video conferencing is now being extended.
In a PIL seeking video conferencing facility for all the prisoners the information was given to the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice PrateekJalan, in order to enable them to have legal interviews with their counsel.
Advocate Sarthak Maggon, being the petitioner argued that no provision has been made so far to give effect to conducting telephonic visits, despite suspension of physical visits for prisoners by order dated March 23.
Mr Satyakam represented the Delhi Government and informed the court that the video conferencing facility is now extended to all the prisoners on the following terms:
Requests from VC received from counsels through e-mails shall be considered by Superintendent, Jails
Superintendent should take a proper decision on allowing/denying VC after verifying the vakalatnama and the identity of the applicant
Slot for VC shall be fixed as soon as possible and intimation shall be sent to the applicant a day before the fixed slot
VC of 30 minutes shall be allowed to each prisoner twice a week
Requests for VC shall be entertained on first come first serve basis
The legal interview shall be conducted in the presence of Deputy Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent but out of hearing
In case of any misuse, the VC facility will be immediately taken away.
Senior Advocate VikasPahwa, represented the Petitioner and raised objections with the ambiguities that exist in the circular. Specific objections against phrases such as ‘first come first serve basis’ and ‘misuse of the facility’ were raised by Mr Pahwa.
Submissions were made that the privileged communication between a client and his counsel must be ensured as it is a part of client’s Right to Privacy.
Permission of phone calls and setting a timeline of 48 hours on the concerned Superintendent to process the request for VC meeting for prisoners was also sought by Mr. Pahwa.
Mr Satyakam on the issue of privileged communication submitted that the jail official will only be present in sight due to security purposes and will be kept out of the hearing distance.
The court disposed of the petition, after taking these submissions into record and asked the Government to consider the suggestions of the Petitioner in case it wishes to amend the said Circular and make it more user friendly.
Liberty to move the court again in future if there’s any grievance regarding the implementation of the facility as provided in the Circular was also given to the petitioner.