The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and state governments to comply within a month with its directions on mandatory installation of CCTV cameras in police stations and offices of investigation agencies.
A bench headed by Justice BR Gavai asked the governments to file their compliance affidavits till March 29, while warning in case of non-compliance, it will be compelled to take necessary steps against the officials concerned.
“If the directions are not complied with, we shall be compelled to take such steps as necessary against the Union home secretary and chief secretaries and home secretaries of respective state governments,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol, on February 21.
The top had in 2020 directed installation of CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and National Investigation Agency, which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest.
Senior advocate Siddhartha Dave, who has been appointed amicus curiae (friend of court) in the matter, submitted that 25 states and union territories were yet to file compliance reports in terms of the earlier directions which had initially set a deadline of six weeks for putting in place CCTVs in police stations across the country.
The Centre informed the court that CCTVs will be installed at the CBI headquarters here as well as its branch offices by the end of next month and that all offices of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Serious Frauds Investigation Office and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence have already complied with the directive.
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It also said procurement of CCTVs for NIA establishments has been approved and the exercise will be concluded by the end of this year.
It sought time till May for installation of the remaining CCTVs at the Enforcement Directorate. As far as police stations in Delhi are concerned, the Centre informed, there was a requirement of over 2,000 more CCTVs and currently 1,941 CCTVs needed to be upgraded.
In December 2020, a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman, while dealing with a matter related to custodial torture, had directed the Centre to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies.
It had directed the states and union territories to ensure CCTV cameras are installed at each and every police station, at all entry and exit points, main gate, lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception as also areas outside the lock-up rooms so that no part is left uncovered.
While passing the direction, the apex court had taken note of a 2017 case in which it had ordered installation of CCTV cameras in all the police stations to check human right abuses, videography of crime scene and setting up of a Central Oversight Committee. It had ordered setting up such a panel in every state and union territory.