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Magistrates to visit Tihar for remand extension cases

By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

NEW DELHI, MAY 12. Tihar Central Jail here is going to become the first prison in the country that will have magistrates visiting it for all the cases of remand extension. With the Delhi High Court approving of the provision recently, the jail officials are enthused as the new arrangement would do away with the problems associated with transportation of nearly 300 prisoners daily.

A senior Jail official said while the High Court has in principle approved of the provision, the technicalities need to be worked out. However, that does not appear to be a real problem as already the Jail is playing host to two magistrates daily for dealing with the post-challan remand extension cases. But while this is being done on an "experimental basis'', very soon both post and pre-challan remand extension cases would be disposed off in the Jail premises itself.

The official said this is a historic step as it would do away with several anomalies that exist in the present system. "When the prisoners are transferred to courts, a number of problems are faced. The transportation of around 1,200 prisoners every day - including the 300 who just go for statutory extension of the remand - puts a heavy burden on resources and manpower and so this would save a lot of money of the exchequer.''

Also, he added, that since about 25 per cent of the prisoners go to courts daily only for extension of their remand, as this is a mandatory requirement under the Criminal Procedure Code, this would reduce the burden on the Delhi Armed Police which has a budget of around Rs 13 crores per year for jail duties alone.

With a large chunk of prisoners not going to the courts, the incidence of extortion and blade attacks in the jail vehicles will also drop. Further, the chances of prisoners escaping will also come down, said the official, noting that a recent escape case had gravely harmed the morale of the jail officials.

Another major benefit of the provision would be that by reducing the travel by prisoners it would help bring down the incidence of passing on of prohibited articles by their relatives or friends during court meetings. "Since most of the smuggling of items into jails takes place when prisoners return after court proceedings, this would help curb the practice to some extent.''

The visit by the magistrates, the jail official said, would be even more beneficial than the expensive process of video-conferencing as here the magistrates will not only be able to see the inmates, they will also be able to enquire about their well-being. "This would also keep the black sheep in jail staff within check as they would know that their deeds would be reported to the magistrates.''

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