‘Pick Up Momentum’, SC Tells States, UTs On CCTV Installation In District Courts & Tribunals

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand on Thursday submitted before the Supreme Court bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice UU Lalit the status report on the compliance with the order dated August 14 of the same bench regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in all subordinate courts across India.

The ASG also submitted before the bench that the Ministry of Information and Technology had, in consultation with the e-committee of the apex court, laid down the technical specifications, price range and source of supply for the CCTV cameras to be installed, as required under the order of August 14. Anand further satisfied the court that the Ministry of Law and Justice had written to the registrars general of high courts, the chief secretaries of state governments and the administrators of UTs with regard to the installation of CCTVs with audio recording in all district courts within their jurisdiction. An affidavit of the Deputy Secretary, Department of Justice, Government of India, in respect of the same was filed before the Supreme Court.

The status report, revealing the progress of 15 high courts, shows that the Allahabad High Court has defined three phases to undertake the installation of CCTV cameras in all districts of Uttar Pradesh in a scheduled manner, the Calcutta High Court is awaiting the sanction of the state government to float a tender in respect of the 6 identified districts, the installation is complete in respect of 2 districts in Delhi, and the tendering process has been successfully executed in Gujarat and all districts are expected to be equipped with CCTVs by March.

The ASG submitted that the progress made by the High Court of Judicature at Madras is commendable, in so far as the state government has sanctioned funds for all districts in Tamil Nadu and installations have already been completed in respect of 5 districts. It was also brought to the attention of the bench that Sikkim, having installed cameras in 4 districts, is in a satisfactory state. The apex court observed that the Patna High Court is lagging far behind inasmuch as none of the 61 district courts in Bihar have been provided with cameras and even the tendering process has not been completed. The court, however, lauded the efforts of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in so far as a four-phase schedule has been worked out for the installation work and directed the same to be uploaded on the Law Ministry’s website. The top court urged all states to follow the example of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In addition, the top court inquired about the status of installation of CCTVs in commissions and tribunals, particularly, the debt recovery, income tax and Armed Forces’ Tribunals and the consumer courts. The status report filed by the Centre shows the progress made by nine tribunals, including the Electricity Appellate Tribunal, NCLT and the NCLAT, Industrial Tribunal and the Securities Appellate Tribunal. “The Ministry of Law and Justice has to coordinate the implementation of the order with regard to the tribunals,” the bench observed.

The court further remarked, “On March 28, we had required the installation of cameras to be undertaken in respect of at least 2 districts in all states and UTs only with a view to ensure that something is done immediately and to obtain feedback as to the usefulness of the measure. Now the momentum needs to be picked up.” It asked Anand to “write to the Registrars of the High Courts that are deficient in supplying information on the state of their progress”.

The matter is next scheduled for hearing on December 11.

Read the Affidavit and Progress Report Here