This Article is written by Himanshu Shukla, Student (IP University, Delhi)
The state government was instructed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on E-mulakat so that convicts in the state can meet with their lawyers and family members while respecting their privacy.
In the bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafique and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla while hearing a petition filed by a lawyer, who was unable to meet his client, to seek a plea on the offenses relating to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, Indian Penal Code, and the Information Technology Act, to take directions and understand the matter thereof.
“While communicating with them, confidentiality is given to the accused and the prison staff should not be made to sit within the audible range to ensure confidentiality between the accused and his lawyer/family members,” the court said.
The court, however, clarified that such facility is to be provided to the prisoners from time to time, on advance application, at least once a week, for not more than 30 minutes.
Issuing directions to the Petitioner as well as the State Government, the Court also ordered, “It is directed that appropriate orders in this regard may be passed after having all the inputs within four weeks from the date of production of a copy of this order.”
The court also ordered the counsel to submit all the suggestions in a comprehensive representation to the Principal Secretary, Home, Jail, and Law Department, who will look into and analyze their grievances regarding the right to a fair trial for all undertrials in the state. Also, check the guidelines set by various state governments on the state of Madhya Pradesh and the E-mulakat facility.
It was the case of the petitioner counsel that the option of meeting an under trial prisoner during the trial was not available due to suspension of physical hearing and the second option is subject to release of such prisoners on bail.
It is therefore submitted that there is no such arrangement in the jails of the State of Madhya Pradesh through which the prisoners can consult their lawyers and have effective privileged communication.
Accordingly, the petition was disposed of.