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Skype for jails to replace video conferencing trials in court

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Skype - a freemium voice-over-IP service and instant messaging, which is used by people across the world to connect with their love ones would soon be used by the Maharashtra prison department. This would be done to produce undertrials before the court in the wake of low police escort personnel availability leading to delay in criminal trials.

A trial run was conducted at the Arthur Road jail and Taloja prison, linking both the central prisons via Skype. The internet-based programme is mainly pegged against the present method of producing undertrials through video-conference to reduce the telephone bills.

A state home department official said, "Skype is a cost-effective service and we already have had a discussion with the National Informatics Centre, to work out a way to ensure that there is no third party intrusion in this service being used by the department."

The trial project ended in the last week of February. Over the years, the prison department has been contemplating the use of this service.

Arthur Road jail superintendent, VD Borkule said, "Apart from it being cost-effective, in several parts of the state there is a problem of load shedding and the use of Skype is the best alternative option to tackle this problem. This is a good idea."

At the moment, 54 prisons and 146 courts are linked through video-conference facility in the state. In the last three months ending February 2014, over 10,000 undertrials were produced before the courts through video-conference. Approximately, the telephone bill via video-conference is around Rs15,000 per month. The government will check the financial viability before the implementation of this service, said the home department official.

Last week while hearing a public interest litigation, the Bombay high court suggested to the state to set up special cells attached to the prisons, which would exclusively be employed for escorting undertrials to prison and would not be burdened with any other bandobast duties.

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