Featured Article from Conferencing

Madhu Kishwar to Appear in Court via Video Conference

August 01, 2017

As several recent articles have shown, India is currently going through a crisis when it comes to its criminal justice system. There is a severe backlog of inmates in Indian prisons because of delayed court hearings. Due to the country’s lack of law enforcement, there often aren’t enough hands on deck to escort prisoners to their trials. As a result, trials get postponed, people stay in jail longer, and prisons become overcrowded.

This is not a good situation for anyone involved. India’s justice system is being slowed down immensely, guilty inmates aren’t being sorted into the right prisons because there’s no official verdict, and those who are innocent are spending more time in jail than necessary because they can’t get to their trials.

To help get this predicament under control, the Supreme Court in India has started allowing inmates to appear in court via video conference. The latest case of this occurred in New Delhi, when the Top Court allowed activist Madhu Kishwar to use video conferencing in her case.

Kishwar has been charged with criminal defamation by Syed Shujaat Bukhari, Editor-in-Chief of a daily published from Srinagar. He filed the suit against her on the grounds of a “few tweets” she had posted to Twitter about the state of the media in Kashmir. Bukhari, who is part of the media, found offense in these tweets and therefore filed against her.

Originally, Kishwar was supposed to appear in court in Srinagar, but she and her advocated, Mahesh Jethmalani, both argued that there is an "explosive and life-threatening law and order situation" in Srinagar, and that appearing there would risk her life.

To solve this problem, the Supreme Court suggested that Kishwar use video conferencing to appear for her trial. “We direct that Madhu Kishwar may be permitted to participate in the proceedings by video conferencing from a Delhi court. If video conferencing facility is not available in the district court in question then the proceedings may take place at any appropriate nearest place or court as per the direction of the Chief Justice of the High Court,” said Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit.

The lack of law enforcement officials in India has undoubtedly made it difficult for inmates to appear in court. Many people think that escorts are needed to keep civilians safe from prisoners but, as we can see here, sometimes the city itself isn’t even safe for inmates. The goal of any court system is to bring about justice without any additional casualties. Thanks to video conferencing, the courts in India are one step closer to that goal.

Edited by Maurice Nagle