A Kerala Court has allowed an undertrial to access the internet for 45 minutes every week for legal research.
Mr Roopesh is an under trial for alleged links with Maoists organisation had requested the Court to grant him access to internet facilities to conduct legal research.
While allowing his request, Additional Sessions Judge P Krishna Kumar stated that the accused could only access sites of High Courts, Supreme Court and search engines like Indian Kanoon and Manupatra.
Accused is representing himself
In his petition, the accused had requested internet access on the ground that he had exhausted study material that he had with himself and wanted to conduct more research as he has been prosecuted in 39 cases which are pending in various courts and in most of those cases he is conducting the trial as a party in person.
State Prosecutor says he has no objections.
The State prosecutor stated that he has no objections if limited internet access is provided to the accused.
However, the State Prosecutor urged the Court to ensure that the accused is only accessing the internet for legal research and not to send messages to his associates.
The Court was impressed by the legal acumen of the accused.
While pronouncing his judgement, the Hon’ble Judge remarked that the Court had the opportunity to see the legal acumen of the accused first hand on various occasions and that he also comes well prepared.
The Court also observed that the Kerala Prisons & Correctional Services (Management) Act, 2010 or the Prisoners Act neither permits nor prohibits prisoners from accessing the internet for legal research.
Hon’ble Judge agreed with the contention raised by the State Prosecutor that if internet access is granted to the accused, then other prisoners might demand the same.
While keeping in mind the apprehension of the State Prosecutor, the Court disposed of the case by passing the following directions:-
- The Superintendent of the prison shall forward the request of the accused for internet access or legal aid to appropriate authorities and departments.
- In case of directions of the Court, the Superintendent of police shall provide law journal software to the petitioner.
- When software journals are provided to the petitioner, he shall be allowed to use a computer to access the journals.
- Until further directions, the petitioners will be provided internet access for 45 minutes.
- The firewall of the computer should be configured in such a way that only official websites of Courts and legal journals are accessible.
- A CCTV camera should cover the computer given to the petitioner.
- Charges for the internet facility should be deducted from the wages given to the petitioner.