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Jailed Maoist leader allowed controlled use of Internet in jail to prepare for his own cases

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New Delhi (ILNS): Jailed Maoist leader Roopesh, accused in 39 cases, got permission to use the internet for 45 minutes in a week to access the official websites of the Supreme Court and High Courts and various legal journals for conducting his trial.

Additional Sessions Judge P. Krishna Kumar said that this facility will be available to Roopesh, who is conducting his cases himself as party-in-person in most of the cases, till the jail authorities provide him software-based law journals.

Moving his petition, the activist sought to get limited and indirect access to the internet for collecting legal materials such as judgments of the constitutional courts and various statutes. He submitted that most of the cases against him had matured for trial and the access to judgments and various statutory provisions was indispensable.

He has submitted before the court that being an under-trial prisoner, he was entitled to access internet, though in controlled manner. He submitted that such facility should not be denied to him.

He further submitted that the right to use internet had become a fundamental right protected under Article 19 of the Constitution, which was recognised by the Supreme Court.

The Additional Sessions Judge P. Krishna Kumar, Ernakulam, had partially allowed the Application and directed the Superintendent of the Central Prison, Viyyur, to place the computer, which the Petitioner can access, in such a manner that its screen faces a CCTV camera to ensure that the access to internet is not misused.

“This Court had the opportunity to see the legal acumen of the petitioner on a number of occasions. He always comes prepared to address the court with suitable precedents and legal provisions. He is a law graduate,” the judge observed in the order.

The Court also noted that the Prisoners Act or the Kerala Prisons & Correctional Services (Management) Act, 2010 or the Rules made thereunder neither prohibits nor permits the under­trial prisoners from using the Internet for accessing legal materials or otherwise.

“When it is declared by the constitutional courts that right to legal aid and right to use the Internet are fundamental rights, the Petitioner has every justification in asking permission to use the same for accessing legal materials to properly defend his case, in the absence of any prohibition in the prison laws. But the exercise of that right depends upon the availability of that facility in the prison and the capability of the prison authorities to provide it to the Petitioner or any other person who demands it, without compromising the risk elements involved. Such a facility can be provided to a person only if there is enough mechanism to regulate its use in a reasonable manner and also to prevent the misuse of the same,” the judge said.

The jail authorities were also directed to put in place necessary firewall protection to the computer to allow access only to the official sites of Courts and legal websites.

Read Also: Supreme Court stays Delhi High Court order directing 2,300 under-trials to surrender by November 26

The internet usage charges shall be adjusted against the wages to be given to the Petitioner, if he exercises his option for availing employment in the prison, the Court directed. The jail authorities were also directed to provide software-based law journals to him and to permit the use the computer to access them for a reasonable time.

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