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No infrastructure for video recording, court says has no option but to do without it

Thursday, June 20, 2019
By Bhavna Uchil

Payal Tadvi Case

Payal Tadvi’s family had sought video-recording of all proceedings in the case

Observing that the infrastructure is yet to be made available to courts for video-recording of proceedings related to offences under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as is required as per an amendment, a special SC/ST court conducting the Dr. Payal Tadvi case in the city has said that the bail hearing in the matter will have to proceed without video-recording.

By a recent order, the court had directed the police to make arrangement for video recording of proceedings in the matter. This order was a result of an application made by advocate Gunratan Sadavarte seeking that all proceedings in the matter be video recorded as is required under the SC & ST (POA) Act. While the prosecution had sought time to make infrastructural arrangements, the accused doctors represented by advocate Abad Ponda had argued that only proceedings related to the offences are required to be video-recorded and that bail hearings are out of the ambit of the law. Sadavarte had then told court that he state and police machinery are not serious in matters of atrocities against lower castes.

Additional Sessions Judge Purushottam B. Jadhav said in his order, “Learned advocate for the applicants/accused argued at length that video-recording of bail proceeding is not at all necessary. It is to be noted that this point is already decided by this court. It cannot be reopened.”

Regarding the lack of infrastructure, the court noted that the provision of infrastructure is to be made by the government, but it has not happened in Maharashtra, nor in any other part of the country. Judge Jadhav further stated, “It is true that not in a single case video-recording is done, though the amendment came into force a couple of years ago. Thousands of cases are being heard without video-recording.” The court said that the advocate for the informant (Tadvi's mother) raising the issue has brought the issue to the front. “It would certainly help the concerned authorities to think over the matter seriously and expeditiously and to take steps for providing infrastructure,” the order stated.

Judge Jadhav stated that since the bail application needs to be decided expeditiously, the court has no option but to proceed without video-recording.

The court, however, said about the police, that they had their genuine difficulties with regards to funds as the funds are allocated by the government under different heads. It said that the state also provides funds directly to it and not the police. “In this case, the investigation officer has already written to the higher authority. It shows his bonafides,” it said, but stated further that it would require considerable time – maybe two to three years, for getting the infrastructure and hence the bail hearing must proceed.

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