Now, Odisha Courts To Hold Trials Through Video-Conferencing!

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Cuttack: In a first of its kind project in India, the Orissa High Court has proposed establishing simultaneous video-conferencing facilities in subordinate courts and corresponding jails.

This would facilitate the accused to go on trial without coming to the courts physically, thereby saving time and reducing pendency in lower courts.

The HC mooted the Rs 31-crore pilot project for Angul and Nayagarh districts to the state home department recently.

Once approved, it would mean the accused can be put on trial with a judge, witnesses and the lawyer on a single screen through a secure and dedicated network.

“It’s very innovative and probably the first time in India that we are planning to attempt such a thing. Under the present system of video conferencing in vogue in Odisha, only remand process happens through video conferencing while the accused have to physically come to court for trial,” Tanmany Mohanty, member secretary of the State Court Management System, said.

“But under the proposed system the accused need not come to the court even once. The entire trial would happen through a dedicated optic fibre network saving the police the headache of bringing the accused to court for each of the hearing,” Mohanty said.

Last month, Law Minister Pratap Jena told the Assembly that till October 31, the pendency in subordinate courts was 141,000 while Orissa HC had a backlog of 150,000 cases.

The minister said the rate of case disposal has been decreasing over the years as 25 district-level judge positions were vacant in the lower judiciary.

Officials said the district judiciary is often bogged down with the logistics of transporting undertrials from jail premises to trial courts in the same area. The situation becomes worse when an undertrial is lodged in jail far away from the court where his case is being tried. There have been several cases in which the accused often flee the courtroom while being taken for the hearing.

Mohanty said the new project can speed up the process of trial, cut down on money and time involved in moving undertrials between jails and courts as well as the appearance of counsel and witnesses. It also means an improvement in the delivery of justice so that pendency of cases will be reduced to a considerable extent.

The two districts of Angul and Nayagarh were chosen for the pilot project because of their higher number of undertrial prisoners as compared to other districts.

Senior police officials said the video conferencing facilities that are currently available in 43 subordinate courts in the state was largely non-functional due to bandwidth issues and lack of technical manpower, Hindustan Times reported.

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