Photo: The Indian Express.

CCTVs and recording equipment at police stations, interrogation centres: SC expresses displeasure at Centre’s non-compliance of court’s directions, states’ lackadaisical approach

THE Supreme Court Tuesday expressed displeasure at the Central Government’s non-compliance of court’s directions seeking installation of CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and any other agencies that carry out interrogations and have the power of arrest.

“Paragraph 19 of our order dated 02.12.2020 has not yet been followed”, the court pointed out, as Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, sought an adjournment but a bench led by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman disapproved of it and said there was no justification to ask for one again.

It directed the Centre to file an affidavit within three weeks stating exactly how much financial outlay was required, and the timeline within which they were going to carry out the directions contained in the second sentence, in particular, of Paragraph 19 of the order dated 02.12.2020 requiring the installation of CCTV cameras in the offices of CBI, NIA, ED etc.

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The court also expressed displeasure at the lackadaisical approach of state governments in implementing the court’s order in letter and spirit.

It directed the state governments and UTs to allocate funds for the purpose.

It said these are the matters of utmost importance concerning the citizens of this country under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Having regard to the large geographical area, the court granted the Uttar Pradesh government a further six months after the budgetary allocation takes place i.e. nine months from today.

Referring to the affidavit of the Bihar Government, the court said nothing had been indicated about the amounts to be allocated for the project despite which a timeline of 24 months to complete the project had been indicated.

“We are most displeased with this affidavit. It shows a complete lack of any regard for the citizens’ fundamental eights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and for our orders”, the Court said

The top court had on December 3 last year directed all states to install CCTV cameras at all entry and exit points, the main gate of the police station, all lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception area, verandas and outhouses, the 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 and toilets, duty officer’s room, behind the police station.

It said the CCTV systems that had to be installed would need to be equipped with night vision and necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage.

In areas in which there was either no electricity and/or internet, it would be the duty of the states and Union Territories to provide the same as expeditiously as possible using any mode of providing electricity, including solar or wind power, the court ruled.

The internet systems, the bench said, that are provided must also be systems which provide clear image resolutions and audio.

Read the Order