SC directs installation of CCTVs, audio recording at all interrogation rooms, lock-ups
New Delhi: The premier investigating agencies comes under the scanner of CCTV.
SC today directed Centre to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigating Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Serious Fraud Investigating Office (SFIO) & any other agency which carries out interrogation and has power of arrest.
Most important of all 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 Supreme Court said.
“As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a Police station,” said the Top Court.
The Apex Court has directed that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of violation of his human rights.
A three-judge bench headed by Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, K.M. Joseph & Aniruddha Bose has pronounced its verdict on a plea by Paramvir Singh Saini, who has raised the issue of audio-video recording of statements and of the installation of CCTV cameras in police stations.
The Supreme Court has passed directions for constitution of “Oversight Committees” at the State (State Level Oversight Committee) and District (District Level Oversight Committee) level for ongoing installation and maintenance of CCTVs in Police Stations across all UTs and States while it directed Finance Departments of all UTs and States to allocate fund for it.
The State Level Oversight Committee must consist of: (i) The Secretary/Additional Secretary, Home Department; (ii) Secretary/Additional Secretary, Finance Department; (iii) The Director General/Inspector General of Police; and (iv) The Chairperson/member of the State Women’s Commission.
So far as the District Level Oversight Committee is concerned, this should comprise of: (i) The Divisional Commissioner/ Commissioner of Divisions/ Regional Commissioner/ Revenue Commissioner Division of the District (by whatever name called); (ii) The District Magistrate of the District; (iii) A Superintendent of Police of that District; and (iv) A mayor of a municipality within the District/ a Head of the Zilla Panchayat in rural areas.
The Apex Court said, “the duty and responsibility for the working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs shall be that of the SHO of the police station concerned. It shall be the duty and obligation of the SHO to immediately report to the DLOC any fault with the equipment or malfunctioning of CCTVs. If the CCTVs are not functioning in a particular police station, the concerned SHO shall informed the DLOC of the arrest/ interrogations carried out in that police station during the said period and forward the said report to the DLOC. If the concerned SHO has reported malfunctioning or non-functioning of CCTVs of a particular Police Station, the DLOC shall immediately request the SLOC for repair and purchase of the Equipment, which shall be done immediately.”
The Court has noted in its order, “Since these directions are in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and since nothing substantial has been done in this regard for a period of over 2½ years since our first Order dated 03.04.2018, the Executive/Administrative/police authorities are to implement this Order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible.”