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Supreme Court directs states to ensure internet facility in every jail for speedy transfer of electronic records

In relation to the implementation of Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER), the Supreme Court has directed all states of the country to ensure the availability of internet facility with adequate speed in each and every jail and take necessary steps to arrange for internet facility, if not available expeditiously.

The three-Judge Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, was on Thursday consisting suo motu proceedings to be initiated on July 16, 2021, based on reports stating non-release of prisoners after the grant of bail.

“This Court, therefore, contemplated adopting the procedure termed as FASTER, to ensure that such a situation does not arise in future”,

-said the bench.

In furtherance of the same, the Court directed the Secretary General of Supreme Court to submit a proposal, suggesting modalities to implement the FASTER system. The Court had further directed the Secretary General to co-ordinate/consult Amicus Curiae Dushyant Dave, Senior Counsel and Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, National Informatic Centre and other Government authorities.

In compliance with the same , a proposal suggesting modalities to implement the FASTER system has been placed before the Court by the Secretary General.

The Apex Court is concerned about the plight of the jail- inmates who are not released despite the bail orders passed by the Court due to delay in communication of such orders.” It is high time to utilize the Information and Communication Technology tools for efficient transmission of Court’s orders”, observed the Bench.

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FASTER system proposes transmission of e-authenticated copies of the interim orders, stay orders, bail orders and record of proceedings to the duty-holders for compliance and due execution, through a secured electronic communication channel.

The proposal contains the pre-requisites and the timelines to work out the prerequisites for implementation of the FASTER system.

Nineteen states have submitted compliance reports/affidavits with regard to availability of internet facilities in prisons. The States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram have indicated non-availability/partial availability of internet connectivity.

The Bench directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs to ensure the availability of internet facility with adequate speed in each and every jail in their respective States/UTs and take necessary steps to arrange for internet facility expeditiously wherever the same is not available. Till then, communication shall be made through the Nodal Officers of the State Governments under the FASTER system.

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The Director General, National Informatics Centre, Secretary (Home) of all the States/UTs and the Director General/Inspector General of Prisons of all the States/UTs shall ensure smooth and successful implementation of FASTER system and shall coordinate with the Registry of the Court in this regard, the Court further directed.

“The requisite amendment in the Rules and Procedure for the Supreme Court of India be taken up on the administrative side. Further, all the duty-holders shall amend their Rules/Procedure/Practice/directions forthwith, to recognize the e-authenticated copy of the order of this Court communicated to them through the FASTERA system and shall comply with the directions contained therein”,

-the order read.

The court has fixed the hearing of the matter after two weeks.

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