Apex court’s order for installation of surveillance systems in CBI, NIA, ED offices

On December 2, the Supreme court ordered the central government to install recording devices and CCTV cameras in CBI, ED and NIA offices, especially in interrogation and custody rooms. 

The bench of the apex court said that all the Union Territories and states have to assure the installation of CCTV cameras in every police station including the lock-ups, entry and exit gates, corridors and reception in a way that leaves no space without surveillance. This was important to be taken into consideration as there have been several instances of human rights violations in such law enforcement offices. 

For instance, on October 24, a 13-year old girl was raped in a police station in Odisha by four officers. In 2014, an Indian woman was gang-raped in a police station in Uttar Pradesh when she had gone to get her husband released from the police custody. Another girl was raped in a police station in New Delhi later the police demanded Rs 5,00,000 rupees from her. 

The annual report on torture 2019, reported 125 deaths in police custody and 1,606 deaths in the judicial custody in India. 

It was also stated that the surveillance system should be well-equipped with audio, video and night monitoring. The court had made it mandatory for all the states and union territories to acquire systems that would store data for a minimum of one year. 

The interrogations of the accused take place in these offices, this is the reason that CCTV surveillance is made mandatory. In 2018, the supreme court had given the verdict regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in all the police station across the country. 

CCTV cameras at police stations lying defunct
photo credits- Tribune

The apex court, in September, had questioned the states for the location of the CCTV cameras in the police stations with regard to the 2018 order. 

The court had received the reports and compliance affidavits of 14 states by November 24 however several of them did not manage to reveal the locations and details of the CCTV cameras in the police stations. 

They have decided that the next hearing on January 27, they have asked all the states to file their reports in six weeks explaining their execution plan and schedule for the compliance of the order.

In order to prevent violence and abuse, to check for the videography of the crime, a Central Oversight Committee is to be set up in each state. 

In the state-level oversight committee, the body consists of the secretary or additional secretary of the finance department and the home department along with the Director-General or Inspector General of Police including the chairperson of the state women’s commission. They are responsible for acquirement, distribution and installation of the surveillance equipment including the allocation of the budget. 

Even the district-level oversight committee will include the divisional, regional or the revenue commissioner, the superintendent of police, the district magistrate even the municipality’s mayor and the head of the Zilla Panchayat. They are obligated for the functioning and reviewal of footages of police stations to prevent the human rights violations which were not reported. Including coordination with the state-house officer, who is accountable for the maintenance and operations of the CCTV cameras of the stations. 

To keep eye on cops, SC wants CCTV cameras at police stations | Cities  News,The Indian Express
photo credits- The Indian Express

There are certain areas where the system is not expected to work due to frequent power cuts and low network, the surveillance systems will not work. In this case, the states and the Union Territories are meant to provide funds for providing the same by installing solar and wind energy conservation devices. 

The supreme court has directed that the CCTV recording should be backed up for a minimum period of six months as it is the right of the victim to seek the recording in case of any violence or abuse. 

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