'J&K: Efforts to connect jail, court with video link'

Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice Gita Mittal

Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice Gita Mittal has said that efforts are on to connect all the jails in the state with courts through video conferencing to ensure speedy justice to the inmates.

She announced that meeting of lawyers with their clients in jails can take place on the eve of hearing of their cases and asserted that the focus is on clearing pending cases.  

"Prisoners should not be deprived of the rights and facilities. Our effort should be to minimize their problems and remove the hurdles in ensuring speedy justice to them," Justice Mittal said while speaking at a function at district jail in Amphalla here on Wednesday evening.

The function was organized by the prisons department to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as part of its efforts to spread his message. It was also attended by Director General of Police, prisons, V K Singh and other senior police and civil officers.

The inmates and the police cultural troupe led by Sub-inspector Mushtaq Ahmad presented a colourful programme in front of the nearly 600 prisoners – both men and women – who are lodged in the jail.

Encouraging the inmates to take part in the programmes chalked out by the jail authorities for their betterment and rehabilitation, Justice Mittal said, "We will try our best to minimize your problems and also ensure that you get justice on time.

"We are continuously monitoring and making efforts to connect all jails with courts through a video link so that your cases do not get delayed due to lack of security escort. We are coordinating with every district so that your cases are heard without any delay," she said.

She added that the focus is also on old cases pending for years so that they are taken to their logical conclusion.

The chief justice said she had conveyed to the prisons department to facilitate meeting of lawyers with their clients lodged in different jails on the eve of hearing of their cases as they do with other clients.  

"We know those facing criminal cases might also have some civil cases involving their families. Land dispute, concern over the education of children, payment of rented accommodation, other problems with house owner. We are paying attention towards that as well,"she said.

Lauding the performance of the inmates and the police cultural team, Justice Mittal said she was stunned by the talented singers, dancers and musicians and hailed the efforts of the Jail superintendent Mirza Saleem Beig.

"You are highly talented and have the capability to achieve big in your lives," she said referring to the performance by the inmates including a woman singer who appeared thrice on the podium singing a romantic duet and a solo Bollywood number besides participating in a dance with three other jail male inmates.  

She said it is painful that most of the women prisoners are facing emotional issues as they are being left by their families and nobody is turning up to meet them. "Only a few lucky ones see their children and husbands visiting them in the jails. When someone is put into a prison he loses his freedom," she said.

Shedding light on the teachings of Gandhi, she asked the inmates to introspect and set right the wrongs to become good citizens and help the society in a positive way.

Felicitating the Chief justice, the DGP prisons handed over a memento and a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi made by a jail inmate.

Impressed by the portrait, the chief justice said she will install the portrait in her office in Srinagar.

The DGP prisons said his department is doing its best to provide the best available facilities to the prisoners which includes newly launched inmate calling system and state of art interview rooms.

"There is a intake capacity of 2,810 prisoners in the state jails but an average figure has reached 3,600. We are trying to make optimum utilization of the space so that the inmates do not feel the pressure of crowding," he told PTI.

Singh said there are a total of 587 prisoners in Amphalla jail and 675 inmates in central jail, Kotbalwal in Jammu. 

Jail Superintendent Beig underlined various steps being taken in the prison for the welfare of the prisoners and improving prison administration.

He highlighted that the department is making efforts towards making jail self reliant and providing better facilities and training opportunities to the inmates.

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