What will it take for India to install CCTVs in police stations ?

The film showed police brutality

The film showed police brutality

New Delhi, Nov. 14 (Delhi Crown): It is now over seven months since the Supreme Court last took up the matter of installing CCTVs in police stations across the country following concerns expressed from different sections of society about police violence rising in India.

The situation regarding police brutality tragically remains the same.

Last December, while hearing a case — Paramvir Singh Saini Vs Baljit Singh – a three-judge bench of the Apex Court ordered all states and union territories of India to install CCTV cameras in all police stations.

Going into the specifics of the case, Justices R.F. Nariman, K.M. Joseph and Aniruddha Bose clearly directed that no part of a police station, except the inside of washrooms, should be left uncovered by CCTV.

They further stated that all CCTVs must be equipped with night vision, audio and video footage recording facilities, and that footage from them, would have to be preserved for a minimum period of six months.

The Apex Court bench also said central agencies like the CBI, NIA, ED, NCB, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) must follow this direction as they also arrest and interrogate citizens of the country.

The court further declared that victims of human rights violations committed by state police or central agencies do and will have the right to seek a copy of the CCTV footage related to their interrogation. It added that the Centre and states must make necessary budgetary allocations for buying and installing of CCTVs in a time-bound manner.

Three months later, on March 4, the Supreme Court took up the case again to ascertain compliance of its December 2020 order and was extremely upset to find that hardly any progress had been made.

“We are getting a distinct impression that you are dragging your feet. This concerns the rights of the citizens. This concerns the rights of citizenry under Article 21 of the Constitution,” Justice Nariman had then told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, when the latter had sought more time for submitting details.

“Our orders should have been followed in letter and spirit,” an anguished bench observed.

“We reiterate that these are matters of utmost importance concerning citizens of this country under Article 21of the Constitution of India,” the bench said in its March 4 order.

On the next hearing on April 6, the bench was given the budgetary allocation and it then gave a timeline of one month for allocation of amounts and installation of CCTVs in all states and union territories’ police stations within six months from date of budgetary allocation.

The huge success of the Tamil language movie “Jai Bhim” has again attracted public attention to the issue of police brutality. It is trending on social media even as we continue to hear about acts of custodial violence taking place in police stations across the country, most recently in Kasganj, Uttar Pradesh, where an inmate, Altaf, was found dead in the washroom after being hung from a water-pipe. That matter is now likely to be taken up by the CBI.

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