In a direction aimed at curbing human rights abuses, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice RF Nariman has directed the state governments to install CCTV cameras in each and every police station.
The top court has clarified that the CCTV cameras should cover all the entry and exit gates of the police stations, the main gate, lock-ups and the areas outside the lock-ups, corridors, reception and lobby.
SC’s direction to Centre
Not just police stations, but the apex court has also directed the Union government to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in all offices of the central investigating agencies such as the CBI, ED, NCB, DRI, SFIO and NIA. Notably, these investigating agencies have the power to arrest and interrogate.
It said further that the CCTV systems must be equipped with night vision and have audio as well as video footage and it shall be mandatory for the Centre, states and UTs to purchase such systems which allow storage of data for the maximum period possible, at least one year.
Poor compliance of SC order
The apex court, while dealing with a matter related to custodial torture, had in July this year taken note of a 2017 case in which it had ordered the installation of CCTV cameras in all the police stations to check human rights abuses, videography of crime scene and setting up of a Central Oversight Committee and such a panel in every state and Union Territory.
In its 12-page order, the bench also comprising Justices KM Joseph and Aniruddha Bose noted that till November 24, compliance affidavits and action taken reports were filed by 14 states and the majority of them have failed to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras in each police station and other details.
States/UTs ordered to make funds available
It said adequate funds be allocated for this by the states and UTs at the earliest. It said duty and responsibility for working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs shall be of the SHO of the police station concerned.
The apex court also said in areas where there is either no electricity or internet, it shall be the duty of states and UTs to provide the same expeditiously using any mode of providing power, including solar or wind.
“Whenever there is the 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 about a redressal of the same,” it said.
The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on January 27, said that affidavits be filed within six weeks by the principal secretary or cabinet secretary or home secretary of each state and UTs giving a firm action plan with an exact timeline for compliance with the order.
Notably, the apex court had in 2018 ordered the installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to check human rights abuses.
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