In a move aimed at checking police brutality, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered, the Centre, states and union territories to install CCTVs with night vision cameras in each police station across India. The court also said the Human Right Commission and courts of the country can ask for CCTV footage while dealing with complaints against the police.
A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman also directed the central government to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in offices of central agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Investigation Agency, the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Enforcement Directorate. All the cameras installed should be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage, the court said. The video and audio recordings have to be retained for 18 months for evidence, if needed.
The SHO of the police station concerned shall be responsible for the working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs, it added. To ensure that no part of a police station is left uncovered, it is imperative to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at all entry and exit points, main gate of the police station, all lock-ups, and outside washrooms, among other places, the court ruled. It also ordered constitution of oversight committees at state and district levels for this purpose. In areas without electricity and/or internet, the states/UTs have to provide the same as expeditiously as possible using any mode of providing electricity, including solar/wind power, it said.
The order came in a case relating to CCTV installation in police stations and examination of witnesses by police. The CCTV installation was revived by the top court following a case of custodial torture in Punjab. The top court said in case of serious injury and/or custodial deaths, the injured persons be free to complain to the State Human Rights Commission as also to Human Rights Courts, which must then be set up in each district of every state/UY under Section 30 of the Human Rights Act. Besides, any central agency that carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest “in the same manner as it would in a police station”, must have these recording facilities as well, the court noted.