The Bombay high court on Thursday suggested that the state government set up a special cell for escorting under-trial prisoners to courts and back. The policemen in this cell may be attached to prisons and should not be assigned any other duty.
A division bench of justices N H Patil and Anuja Prabhudesai said: "The state should actively consider setting up this cell as we have been getting several complaints from under-trials about trial being delayed because they were not being produced in court."
Cops in this cell should not be assigned bandobast duties during elections, religious functions, etc. It should have its own infrastructure, and the policemen should be given special security trainings to ensure there are no untoward incidents while they are escorting prisoners.
The bench said" "You (state) have to recruit a large number of policemen; it is high time the investigation wing of the police is not involved in other duties. That is not happening at the moment and it is causing a lot of hindrances and even burdening the judiciary."
This suggestion came up during the hearing of a bunch of petitions that raised concern about criminal trials being delayed due to lack of police personnel for escorting under-trials to courts on due dates.
One of the petitions was filed by Shaikh Abdul Naeem, an inmate of Arthur Road prison, who has cited specific instances when about 46 under-trial prisoners were not produced in trial courts and their trial being adjourned on more than one occasion.
Along with Naeem's plea, the high court has converted a letter received from the principal district judge of Jalna, raising concern about unnecessary adjournments owing to non-production of the accused.
HC was informed that video conferencing facilities were being installed in 54 prisons and 146 courts in the state to avoid non-production of under-trials in courts, and that through this facility trials could be expedited. The court, however, wanted to know the number of courts in Maharashtra so that it would get an idea on the proportion of this scheme vis-a-vis implementation. Accordingly, the court granted the state four weeks to file its reply and adjourned the hearing.