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In a significant direction, the Supreme Court today ordered Legal Services Authorities of all States to extend video conferencing facility for accused lodged in jail in criminal cases to interact with their lawyers.
The order was passed by a Bench of Justices AM Sapre and UU Lalit in two murder cases.
The Court noted that advocate Shikhil Suri who appeared for the accused in both the cases had circulated letters seeking time from the court for conducting video conferencing with the accused. The letter also stated that the exercise was mandatory as per the directions of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
The Court had readily agreed to the request made by Suri and adjourned the matter.
Subsequently, when the matter came up for hearing, the Court had asked Suri whether he could get in touch with the accused successfully. Suri informed the court that he was not able to hold video-conferencing with the accused in one case but could only speak with the sister of the accused. In the second case, however, he was able to speak to the accused.
Impressed by the same, the court proceeded to commend the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for issuing such a direction.
Very often advocates, appearing in matters entrusted by the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority do not have the advantage of having a dialogue with the accused or those who are in the know of the details of the case, the court stated. This, according to the court, hampers the efforts of the advocate.
The Court went on to opine that any effort to facilitate dialogue between the counsel and the client will further the cause of justice and make legal aid meaningful.
It, therefore, ordered all Legal services Authorities/ Committees in every State to extend video conferencing facility between the counsel and the accused lodged in jail in criminal cases or any other person in the know of the matter.
Read the judgment below.