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All inmates can avail video conferencing facility: Delhi HC disposes of challenge to suspension of legal interview in jails due to COVID-19

As per a July 6 Circular by the competent Jail Authority, video conference facility is available for all inmates/prisoners for the purpose of legal interview.

Aditi Singh

A Delhi prison authority today informed the Delhi High Court that a circular has been issued to allow all inmates in all jails to avail video conferencing facility for the purpose of legal interview/legal consultation. (Sarthak Maggon vs UOI)

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan was hearing two petitions concerning the suspension of physical legal interview/legal consultation of the inmates with the advocates of their choice on account of COVID-19.

Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi Government, Advocate Satyakam informed the Court that on July 6, the competent Jail Authority issued a circular extending video conference facility for all inmates/prisoners in all jails to speak with their lawyers.

The Court was informed that a specific time slot of 30 minutes shall be given to each inmate and link will be shared with the lawyer concerned.

It was added that while the Jail Superintendent shall remain present during the virtual legal interview, he shall be outside the hearing range to maintain the confidentiality of the conversation.

In view of the above, the Court remarked that it was not inclined to pass any further directions and proceeded to dispose of the petitions.

It nonetheless added that the suggestions made by Petitioner, Advocate Sarthak Maggon through Senior Advocates Vikas Pahwa, Arvind Nayar may be considered by the Jail Authorities when they choose to bring amendments to the Circular.

Advocate Lav Kumar Agrawal for Petitioner Advocate Ajit P Singh stated that the Circular itself had not been issued by following the law and sought a direction to allow Advocates even without a vakalatnama to virtually meet an inmate. (Ajit P Singh vs State)

The Court, however, remarked,

Government should be given free movement in the joints..These are experimental solutions. Give it a couple of days.
Delhi High Court

The Court clarified that in case of any grievances the Petitioners were free to approach the Court once again.

The Petitions were disposed of.

Read the suggestions made by Petitioner Sarthak Maggon in his petition:

Written Submissions by Petitioner- Sarthak Maggon vs UOI WP C 3778 of 2020.pdf
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