13 Jan 2023 8:30 AM GMT
Terming the public interest litigation, which challenged the decision of Delhi government to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms in all government-run schools, premature, the Delhi High Court on Friday said that the matter can be heard only after a standard operating procedure (SOP) is drawn up by the government.A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice...
Terming the public interest litigation, which challenged the decision of Delhi government to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms in all government-run schools, premature, the Delhi High Court on Friday said that the matter can be heard only after a standard operating procedure (SOP) is drawn up by the government.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the Delhi Government to file a SOP on installation of CCTV cameras in the schools before July 18, the next date of hearing.
“It is premature as of today. As soon as the SOP is drawn up, we will see,” the bench remarked.
The court also said that installation of such cameras in schools is important for the safety of children.
The plea has been moved by Delhi Parents Association and Government School Teachers Association. Filed through Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, the plea challenges two cabinet decisions dated 11th September 2017 and 11th December 2017, passed by Delhi government.
These circulars make provision for installation of CCTV cameras inside classrooms of Government Schools and “online access” of such video footage to parents.
During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel submitted before the court that installation of CCTV cameras inside classrooms may have a grave psychological impact on the children.
The counsel said that the plea was filed after a tragic incident happened in a Gurgaon based school in 2017 wherein a seven year old minor child was murdered by another student studying in class 11.
On this, the bench said: “The murder was detected only because of CCTV camera outside the bathroom [of the school].”
The counsel submitted that in places like classrooms and laboratories, there is an expectation of privacy. Further claiming that the Delhi Government will be live streaming the said data to third parties, the counsel said:
“Parent 'A' may not be comfortable with parent 'B' looking at the footage of data of their children. There is no consent sought from parents. The law is very clear. There is a 9 judge bench decision of the Supreme Court in KS Puttuswamy case.”
Observing that the impugned circulars of the Delhi Government only mention the words “online access”, the bench said that “online access is different than live streaming.”
“Suppose instead of having a physical inspection of the school, it can be virtual. To show that look this is my classroom, this is my playground etc,” Justice Prasad told the counsel.
He added: “It is still….let them come back. They say that it is still under consideration.”
Earlier, the Delhi Government filed an affidavit in the matter and said that one of the major factors behind its decision is to ensure the safety and security of children, especially in light of the rampant incidents of sexual abuse and bullying.
It also argued that its decision does not infringe the right to privacy as enshrined under Article 21 of Constitution of India, adding that the right like any other fundamental right is not absolute and would always be subject to reasonable restrictions by the state.
“It is submitted that with consent of the teachers some of the lecturers can be recorded for further dissemination and the recordings can also be used to analyse and provide feedback to the teachers to improve the teaching processes in order to ensure better understanding amongst the students," the government said.
On the other hand, the plea filed by Delhi Parents Association and Government School Teachers Association in 2020 argues that the impugned decisions to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms, without obtaining specific consent from the students, their parents or the teachers, is a gross violation of their fundamental right to privacy.
The parents-association has opposed the idea of cross-sharing classroom footage with other parents or unauthorised third persons. They fear that such footage may be misused for morphing and dissemination on social media.
Case Title: Delhi Parents Association & Anr. v. Govt (NCT of Delhi)