New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the state governments for not carrying out its 2018 direction to install CCTV (close circuit television) cameras in all police stations across the country.
In its 12-page order, the bench noted that till November 24, compliance affidavits and action taken reports were filed by 14 states and majority of them have failed to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras in each police station and other details.
On Wednesday, the court insisted on installation of CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies, including the CBI, the ED and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest. This essentially means that authorities should compulsorily video graph statements of witnesses.
Also, states and UTs must ensure that cameras are installed at each and 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 Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, K M Joseph and Anirudh Bose further directed all state governments to file affidavits within six weeks, giving a firm action plan to exact timelines for compliance of its order.
It also ruled that the CCTV footage should be preserved for not less than 18 months and the victim has a right to secure it in the event of violation of his human rights.
It also asked senior advocate Siddharth Dave, amicus curiae (friend of court), to submit a comprehensive note by Friday on the question of preserving the CCTV footage for more than 45 days.
The court further 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 police station concerned. It 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.
In 2018, the Supreme Court had directed that CCTVs be installed in every police station in the country to deal with the rising incidence of custody torture. It, however, found during the hearing that its direction has remained on paper.