2 Dec 2022 1:44 PM GMT
The Delhi Government has told the High Court that one of the major factors behind its 2017 decision to install CCTV cameras in classrooms of all its schools is to ensure the safety and security of children, especially in light of the rampant incidents of sexual abuse and bullying.The submission was made by the government in a short affidavit filed by it in response to a plea moved by...
The Delhi Government has told the High Court that one of the major factors behind its 2017 decision to install CCTV cameras in classrooms of all its schools is to ensure the safety and security of children, especially in light of the rampant incidents of sexual abuse and bullying.
The submission was made by the government in a short affidavit filed by it in response to a plea moved by Delhi Parents Association and Government School Teachers Association, challenging the decision to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms in all state-run schools.
The plea filed through Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai impugns 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 live-streaming of such video footage to parents.
Delhi Government has argued 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 in balancing the interest of the State to ensure safety and protection of the students along with the right of privacy in a classroom, it is to be borne in mind the extent to which the expectation of privacy would be reasonable in a public classroom," the government told the court.
The government has further said that increasing incidents of violence in schools and the inability of their management to ensure protection of students compelled the education departments throughout the country to "rethink the standards for safety and security in schools" and issue fresh guidelines for protection and security of the students.
"The increasing threats had occasioned that swift action is taken for ensuring safety of the students. In light of the aforesaid judicial pronouncements and prevalent social context in which the actions were taken, it is submitted that it cannot be said that the actions of the Respondent No. 1 are disproportional to the aim sought to be achieved with the measure," the response states, while referring to various decisions on doctrine of proportionality.
The government has further said that the proposal "had been pipeline for a long time" and was not a knee-jerk reaction to child abuse reports in September 2017. A pilot project to study the feasibility of the project had also been run prior to the decision for installation of the CCTV cameras in September 2017, it said.
One of the goals when the project was envisaged was also to improve the teacher-learning processes and by providing feedback to teachers to improve the learning outcomes, the reply states further.
"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 has 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)