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Legal Interviews With Private Lawyers Through Video Conferencing Will Be Provided To All The Prisoners: Delhi Govt Informs Delhi HC

Karan Tripathi
7 July 2020 7:26 AM GMT
Legal Interviews With Private Lawyers Through Video Conferencing Will Be Provided To All The Prisoners: Delhi Govt Informs Delhi HC
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Delhi Government has informed the Delhi High Court that the facility of legal interviews with private counsels through video conferencing is now being extended to all the prisoners in Delhi.

The information was given to the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in a PIL seeking video conferencing facility for all the prisoners in order to enable them to have legal interviews with their counsel.

Moved by Advocate Sarthak Maggon, the petition had argued that despite suspension of physical visits by order dated March 23, no provision has been made so far to give effect to conducting telephonic visits.

Mr Satyakam, who appeared for the Delhi Government, informed the court that the video conferencing facility is now extended to all the prisoners on the following terms:

  1. Requests from VC received from counsels through e-mails shall be considered by Superintendent, Jails
  2. Superintendent should take a proper decision on allowing/denying VC after verifying the vakalatnama and the identity of the applicant
  3. Slot for VC will shall be fixed as soon as possible and intimation shall be sent to the applicant a day before the fixed slot
  4. VC of 30 minutes shall be allowed to each prisoner twice a week
  5. Requests for VC shall be entertained on first come first serve basis
  6. The legal interview shall be conducted in the presence of Deputy Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent but out of hearing
  7. In case of any misuse, the VC facility will be immediately taken away.

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, who appeared for the Petitioner, raised objections with the ambiguities that exist in the circular. Mr Pahwa had specific objections against phrases such as 'first come first serve basis' and 'misuse of the facility'.

Mr Pahwa submitted that these guidelines must ensure that the privileged communication between a client and his counsel, which is a part of client's Right to Privacy, shall be maintained.

In addition to this, Mr Pahwa also asked for permitting of phone calls and setting a timeline of 48 hours on the concerned Superintendent to process the request for VC meeting.

On the issue of privileged communication, Mr Satyakam submitted the same is not violated as the jail official will only be present in sight due to security purposes, but will be kept out of the hearing distance.

After taking these submissions into record, the court disposed of the petition while asking the Government to consider the suggestions of the Petitioner in case it wishes to amend the said Circular and make it more user friendly.

The court also gave liberty to the Petitioner to move the court again in future if there's an grievance regarding the implementation of the facility as provided in the Circular.

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