PESHAWAR: District and sessions judge of Peshawar Ashfaq Taj on Friday decided that the local courts would begin virtual trial of the suspected criminals in the Peshawar Central Jailon an experimental basis next week in collaboration with the prison department.

The decision was made by Mr Taj during a visit to the prison along with provincial Inspector General of Prisons Saadat Hassan and other relevant senior officials.

The visit came on the orders of Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Roohul Amin, according to an official statement issued here.

The statement added that the visit was meant to providing the people kept in the Peshawar Central Prison over various charges with the ‘virtual facility of production’ before the relevant trial courts.

“The provision of video-link facility to the jail will address the problems involved in ferrying prisoners to the courts, arranging security for them, and other issues.”

According to the statement, around 280 prisoners are taken from the Peshawar jail to the district and sessions court for hearing into their respective cases on a daily basis.

The prisoners brought in from other districts and those coming in to attend hearings by the special courts are in addition to those under-trial persons.

During the visit, district and sessions judge of Peshawar Ashfaq Taj said that the video-link facility was available to all courts falling under the administrative control of the sessions court of Peshawar, including those of 20 additional sessions judges, 10 judicial magistrates, six family court judges, a sessions judge and a senior civil judge.

He also said that the facility was being used for recording statements of witnesses belonging to the remote districts of the province.

“This video-link facility can be extended to the Peshawar Central Prison as well,” he said.

Peshawar High Court director (IT) Lal Shad, who was also in attendance, said that the central jail was directly connected to the high court’s video-link server.

He said that the same fibre optic could be extended to the Peshawar jail to use the premises for the ‘virtual production’ of prisoners from all over the province.

IG (prison) Saadat Hassan promised the immediate provision of computer systems and networking facilities for the initiative.

On the occasion, the district and sessions judge decided that the virtual production of prisoners from the Peshawar jail would begin on next Monday on a trial basis.

It was also decided that a space would be designated for setting up rehabilitation centres for drug addicts kept in the jail.

Mr Taj also ordered the release of eight people behind bars for petty crimes. He also directed the jail authorities to present a report about the recent harassment of a woman prisoner.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022

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