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Ensure CCTV Cameras Are Installed In Each And Every Police Stations: Supreme Court Directs States/UTs

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
2 Dec 2020 1:27 PM GMT
Ensure CCTV Cameras Are Installed In Each And Every Police Stations: Supreme Court Directs States/UTs
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The Supreme Court has observed that the State and Union Territory Governments should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every Police Station functioning under them.Justice RF Nariman led bench observed that these directives shall be implemented both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible. The court has also directed the Central Government to install CCTV cameras...

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The Supreme Court has observed that the State and Union Territory Governments should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every Police Station functioning under them.

Justice RF Nariman led bench observed that these directives shall be implemented both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible. The court has also directed the Central Government to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of central agencies like CBI, NIA etc.

The court issued these directives while disposing SLP filed by one Paramvir Singh Saini, which raised issues regarding audio-video recordings of statements and the installation of CCTV cameras in police stations generally.  The court, while impleading the states and Union Territories, had noted that in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2018) 5 SCC 311, it was directed that the first phase of implementation of crime scene videography must be introduced by 15th July, 2018, at least at some places as per viability and priority determined by the COB. It was also directed therein that with a view to check human rights abuse, CCTV cameras be installed in all police stations as well as in prisons.

"Since these directions are in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and since nothing substantial has been done in this regard for a period of over 2½ years since our first Order dated 03.04.2018, the Executive/Administrative/police authorities are to implement this Order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible. Affidavits will be filed by the Principal Secretary/Cabinet Secretary/Home Secretary of each State/ Union Territory giving this Court a firm action plan with exact timelines for compliance with today's Order. This is to be done within a period of six weeks from today." the bench, also comprising Justices KM Joseph and Aniruddha Bose said while issuing the following directives:

  1. In order to ensure that no part of a Police Station is left uncovered, it is imperative to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at all entry and exit points;  main gate of the police station; all lock-ups; all corridors; lobby/the reception area; all verandas/outhouses, Inspector's room; Sub-Inspector's room; areas outside the lock-up room; station hall; in front of the police station compound; outside (not inside) washrooms/toilets; Duty Officer's room; back part of the police station etc.,
  2. CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage. In areas in which there is either no electricity and/or internet, it shall be the duty of the States/Union Territories to provide the same as expeditiously as possible using any mode of providing electricity, including solar/wind power. The internet systems that are provided must also be systems which provide clear image resolutions and audio.
  3. The storage of CCTV camera footage which can be done in digital video recorders and/or network video recorders. CCTV cameras must then be installed with such recording systems so that the data that is stored thereon shall be preserved for a period of 18 months. If the recording equipment, available in the market today, does not have the capacity to keep the recording for 18 months but for a lesser period of time, it shall be mandatory for all States, Union Territories and the Central Government to purchase one which allows storage for the maximum period possible, and, in any case, not below 1 year. It is also made clear that this will be reviewed by all the States so as to purchase equipment which is able to store the data for 18 months as soon as it is commercially available in the market. The affidavit of compliance to be filed by all States and Union Territories and Central Government shall clearly indicate that the best equipment available as of date has been purchased.
  4. The duty and responsibility for the working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs shall be that of the SHO of the police station concerned. It shall be the duty and obligation of the SHO to immediately report to the DLOC any fault with the equipment or malfunctioning of CCTVs. If the CCTVs are not functioning in a particular police station, the concerned SHO shall inform the DLOC of the arrest / interrogations carried out in that police station during the said period and forward the said record to the DLOC. If the concerned SHO has reported malfunctioning or non-functioning of CCTVs of a particular Police Station, the DLOC shall immediately request the SLOC for repair and purchase of the equipment, which shall be done immediately.
  5. The Director General/Inspector General of Police of each State and Union Territory should issue directions to the person in charge of a Police Station to entrust the SHO of the concerned Police Station with the responsibility of assessing the working condition of the CCTV cameras installed in the police station and also to take corrective action to restore the functioning of all non-functional CCTV cameras. The SHO should also be made responsible for CCTV data maintenance, backup of data, fault rectification etc.

CCTV At Offices Of Central Agencies Also

The court has directed the Central Government to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of: (i) Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) (ii) National Investigation Agency (NIA) (iii) Enforcement Directorate (ED) (iv) Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) (v) Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) (vi) Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) (vii) Any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest. "As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a police station.", it said.

State and District Level Oversight Committee 

The court added that Oversight Committees should be constituted at State and District levels ."State Level Oversight Committee must consist of: (i) The Secretary/Additional Secretary, Home Department; (ii) Secretary/Additional Secretary, Finance Department; (iii) The Director General/Inspector General of Police; and (iv) The Chairperson/member of the State Women's Commission. (i) The Divisional Commissioner/ Commissioner of Divisions/ Regional Commissioner/ Revenue Commissioner Division of the District (by whatever name called); (ii) The District Magistrate of the District; (iii) A Superintendent of Police of that District; and (iv) A mayor of a municipality within the District/ a Head of the Zilla Panchayat in rural areas.", it observed. The judgment also mentions the obligations of these committees.

The Centre was also asked to file an affidavit on the constitution and workings of the Central Oversight Body.

Human Right Commissions/ Courts Can Summon CCTV Footages

The court observed that Human Right Commission/Courts can summon such CCTV footages while dealing with complaints against police. It observed: 

Whenever there is information of force being used at police stations resulting in serious injury and/or custodial deaths, it is necessary that persons be free to complain for a redressal of the same. Such complaints may not only be made to the State Human Rights Commission, which is then to utilise its powers, more particularly under Sections 17 and 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, for redressal of such complaints, but also to Human Rights Courts, which must then be set up in each District of every State/Union Territory under Section 30 of the aforesaid Act. The Commission/Court can then immediately summon CCTV camera footage in relation to the incident for its safe keeping, which may then be made available to an investigation agency in order to further process the complaint made to it.
PARAMVIR SINGH SAINI  vs. BALJIT SINGH [SLP (CRIMINAL) NO.3543 of 2020]
CORAM: Justice RF Nariman, KM Joseph and Aniruddha Bose

 Click here to Read/Download Judgment

Read the Supreme Court Judgment on installation of CCTVs in Police Stations 



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