SC Orders CCTVs to Be Installed in Interrogation Rooms, Lockups

The top court emphasised that CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision.

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 2 December, directed the Centre install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies such as the CBI, the ED and National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest, PTI reported.

A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said that states and Union Territories (UTs) should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at every police station, at all entry and exit points, main gate, lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception as also areas outside the lock-up rooms so that no part is left uncovered, the report said.

The Supreme Court observed that 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 redressal, for which these measures would be necessary, IANS reported.


CCTVs to Be Equipped With Night Vision, Audio & Video: SC

The top court emphasised that CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage. Most important of all, it said, is 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,” the court added, according to IANS.

2018 Order Over Human Rights Abuses

In 2018, the apex court had ordered installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to check human rights abuses.

The bench noted that till 24 November, 14 state governments and two Union Territories filed compliance affidavits and action taken reports, but a majority of these reports failed to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras at each police station.

"The affidavits are bereft of details with respect to the total number of police stations functioning in the respective state and Union Territory; total number of CCTV cameras installed in each and every police station; the positioning of the CCTV cameras already installed; working condition of the CCTV cameras; whether the CCTV cameras have a recording facility, if yes, then for how many days/hours, have not been disclosed," it observed, according to IANS.


Directions to Streamline Installation

The SC issued a slew of directions to streamline the management of CCTVs installation and to review footage for human right violation by the central oversight body (COB) and state level oversight committee (SLOC).

"The SHO (of each police station) should also be made responsible for CCTV data maintenance, backup of data, fault rectification etc. The state and Union Territory governments should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every police station functioning in the respective state and/or Union Territory. Further, to ensure that no part of a police station is left uncovered," said the top court, according to IANS.

The apex court said the SLOC and the COB (where applicable) shall give directions to all police stations, investigative/enforcement agencies to prominently display at the entrance and inside the police stations/offices of investigative/enforcement agencies about the coverage of the concerned premises by CCTV.

"This shall be done by large posters in English, Hindi and the vernacular language. In addition to the above, it shall be clearly mentioned therein that a person has a right to complain about human rights violations to the National/State Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Court or the Superintendent of Police or any other authority empowered to take cognizance of an offence," it said.

The SC ordered that affidavits will be filed by the Principal Secretary/Cabinet Secretary/Home Secretary of each state/Union Territory, giving the Court a firm action plan with exact timelines for compliance with order within a period of six weeks.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)

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Topics:   Supreme Court   Police   CCTV Cameras 

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