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April 24, 2012

Director General of Police Complains to Kerala High Court Regarding Failure of Video Conferencing System

By Carolyn J Dawson
TMCnet Contributor

The Government of Kerala launched the e-governance initiative of linking prisons and courts in Kerala state through video conferencing, in order to expedite the administration of criminal justice. However, the Director General of Police (DGP) has complained to the Kerala High Court, pointing out that courts are not posting any cases to be heard using the system and hence, the system has failed to take off.

The initiative was mainly introduced to prevent the prisoners from gaining access to contraband articles while being transported back and forth for trial hearings. The system was considered to eliminate the possibilities of quarrels between groups or factions within prisoners and associates as well, in court premises or outside during transportation. This project also aimed at connecting different prisons in the state with courts by offering a means of conducting trials without the need for physical appearance in courts.  

In a report filed at the Kerala High Court concerning steps to handle discrimination to prison inmates by jail officials, the DGP stated that, “The functioning and usage of the system is not up to the mark due to non-posting of cases to be produced through the video-conferencing system by the courts.” The DGP is also hopeful for a high court order that will standardize courts to use the video-conferencing system for conducting remand extension and trials.

Based on an order by the high court, the video-conferencing system was launched in Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, and Kottayam districts in 2010. The facility was inaugurated by the Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Chief Justice of Kerala, at the Trivandrum Central Jail, in the presence of the Director General of Police, Home Minister of Kerala, Additional Chief Secretary and Home Secretary, Government of Kerala. 

The central government recently appropriated close to $2.6 million towards extending the project to nine districts during 2010-2015. Keltron, a state government-owned electronics manufacturer together with the Kerala Police Housing Construction Corporation was selected to implement the system. According to the report, the video conferencing system is currently being utilized between courts and jails in the Kannur district of Kerala.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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