Kannur: The police think producing actor Dileep in an open court poses a security risk but a group of human rights activist have come out against the practice of extending the remand of the accused through videoconferencing from the prison.
Dileep was arrested on July 10 in connection with the sexual assault of an actress in February. His judicial custody was extended on July 25 and August 8 though he was not produced before the magistrate in person. The Angamaly judicial first class magistrate agreed to the police request to extend the remand after communicating to the accused through videoconferencing.
Dileep's judicial custody is set to expire on August 22, when he is supposed to be presented before the magistrate.
A Payyannur-based rights group alleged that the prosecution procedures in the high-profile case was shrouded in mystery. The extension of judicial custody through videoconferencing was a violation of human rights, members of the collective said.
Human rights groups across the world have been fighting the practice of producing the image of the accused before the court instead of the real person. Videoconferencing was legalized by the Left Democratic Front government in 2007 as it amended the rules to comply with a directive by the Asian Development Bank as part of jail reforms.
Videoconferencing deprives the accused of his right to communicate with the judicial officer, raise any complaint about the police and talk to the lawyers and see members of the family. The introduction of technology also denied the undertrial prisoner a chance to come out of the jail once in a while.
Communication through videoconferencing is completely under the control of the jail authorities, limiting the judiciary's authority and oversight in matters related to the custody of undertrial prisoners, the rights group said. The magistrate has no way of telling if the accused was speaking freely or under duress, they said.
An accused may not be expected to speak without fear when he is surrounded by police officers inside a jail, a meeting of the collective pointed out.
Members of the collective, including George, K Rajmohan, P Gireesh, M V Gangadharan, C V Prasoon, V V Joy, P U Meera, Aneesh Prabhakar, M Ajith and K Chandran, spoke at the meeting.
The collective has been working against hartals, political violence and capital punishments among other things.