Video Hearings

The decision by a district sessions judge to allow for under-trial prisoners (UTPs) to be produced before the court through video link is a commendable step forward. The Inspector General of Police, Islamabad had requested a meeting on the issue of UTPs, considering the challenges law enforcement had to face just to get the accused to court for a procedural hearing. As a result of this decision, UTPs will now be allowed to appear for their hearings via video link through Adiala Jail, instead of having to first be held in the poorly maintained and crowded Bakshi Khana in F-8 and then be brought to court, leading to logistical issues, not to mention the fuel cost incurred as a result.

In times of financial hardship, any expenditure that can be avoided is important, and it is good to see IGP Islamabad use this opportunity to save resources and make the lives of UTPs easier through one move. The daily commute of UTPs is an unnecessary expense, especially since the first step is a simple submission of the challan or complaint, after which the case officially begins. Under the new model, UTPs that have their cases fixed for evidence will still be produced before the court.

By dividing the UTPs between those awaiting the commencement of their case and others that already have evidence fixed for their hearing allows for more streamlined procedures as well. A video link appearance is likely to take up less time of the court, provided all the technical details have been figured out in advance.

It is hoped that this novel strategy is rolled out in other jurisdictions as well. Saving on costs, making the lives of UTPs and courts easier and allowing for a potentially efficient process is a worthwhile endeavour and one worth replicating.

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