NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories to furnish within two months status of CCTV installation in all 16,000 police stations across the country, even though many of them lack vehicles, phones, wireless sets and facilities for drinking water and clean toilets.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee said, “We wish to know the exact position as to CCTV cameras in police stations as well as the constitution of oversight committees in accordance with our April 3, 2018 order.”
There are around 10,000-odd police stations in rural areas and over 5,000 in urban areas. India has a police force of nearly 23 lakh, of which only six lakh have got family accommodation.
The bench said, “We also expect the chief secretary of each state and Union Territory 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 data to be furnished to this court positively before the next date of hearing, November 24.”
On April 3, 2018, the court had dealt with issues relating to use of videography by police while investigating a crime scene and policemen using body cameras, as is the practice in western countries, to stop hooligans from indulging in unlawful behaviour. However, it had focused on installation of CCTV cameras in police stations and prisons to check human rights abuse. It had also discussed setting up of oversight bodies to regularly go through the CCTV footage from police stations and recommend remedial measures to states.
The bench accepted amicus curiae Sidharth Dave’s suggestion to focus only on installation of CCTV cameras in police stations for the present.
A bench, of which Justice Nariman was a part, had in 2018 favoured equipping the police with videography tools for investigation as well as controlling law and order situations.
“We are of the considered view that notwithstanding the fact that as of now, investigating agencies in India are not fully equipped and prepared for the use of videography, the time is ripe that steps are taken to introduce videography in investigation, particularly for crime scene as desirable and acceptable best practice as suggested by the committee of the MHA to strengthen the rule of law. We approve the centrally driven plan of action prepared by the committee and the timeline as mentioned above. Let the consequential steps for implementation thereof be taken at the earliest,” it had said.