Two years after the Supreme Court directed installation of CCTVs in police stations across the country, a three-judge bench on Wednesday issued orders to Chief Secretaries of states and Union territories to inform the progress on affidavits before November 24.
“The Registry (of Supreme Court) is directed to issue notice to the Chief Secretary of each State and Union Territory to respond on the following points: what exactly is the position with respect to CCTV cameras fitted in each and every Police Station in the State or Union Territory and what is the position qua constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with our order dated April 3, 2018,” said a bench of Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee.
The Court, in its April 2018 order, had approved the “Centrally Driven Plan of Action” suggested by a Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs to strengthen the rule of law. This talked about audio-video recording of statement given by accused to police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and videography of crime scene. Additionally, the Court directed, “With a view to check human rights abuse, CCTV cameras be installed in all police stations as well as in prisons.” The order further required every state to have an independent oversight committee that would study the CCTV camera footage and periodically publish reports of its observations.
Reviving the case in an incident involving alleged custodial torture in Punjab, Justice Nariman appointed senior advocate Siddharth Dave as amicus curiae and sought a report on steps needed to check such violations. The Court even requested Attorney General KK Venugopal to assist in the matter.
Speaking to HT, amicus curiae Siddharth Dave said, “The affidavits filed by the Centre from time to time do not mention whether all states/UTs have installed CCTV cameras in all police stations and prisons. No details of police stations having CCTV cameras have been provided by states either. There is a Central Oversight Body under the Ministry of Home Affairs monitoring the directions of the Court passed in April 2018 but not much progress has been made.”
On Wednesday, the AG could not appear but Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Madhavi Divan told the bench that details of CCTV installation in prisons and police stations are in the process of being gathered. The bench gave further time to the Centre to collect the same and added states and UTs for compilation of statistics by the amicus.
“We expect the Chief Secretary of the States and Union Territories to take this matter seriously and in right earnest, since it involves the fundamental rights of the citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the Court observed in its order and posted the matter for hearing on November 24.
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