Eleven years since the gut-wrenching Nirbhaya rape incident on a moving bus, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Delhi government about the feasibility of installing cameras on DTC buses and alert buttons on the driver and conductor’s seats to ensure safety of women.
The high court posed a slew of questions to the counsel for the Delhi government about the steps taken to strengthen women’s safety in the national capital.
“Are there any camera in DTC buses? Are those push-to-talk buttons installed on CCTV poles? Are you preserving the footage of CCTVs and for how many days you preserve it?” a bench of Justices Kameswar Rao and Anoop Kumar Mendiratta fired a virtual fusillade of questions at the counsel for the Delhi government.
The court was hearing a PIL it had initiated on its own in 2012 on the issue of safety and security of women after the horrific December 16, 2012 gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus. She succumbed to her injuries days later.
The high court asked the Delhi government to file a status report incorporating details about the feasibility of having cameras inside DTC buses and alert buttons at the seats of drivers and conductors, the duration for which data from CCTVs installed in the city is secured and whether any audit is done regarding the working of CCTVs installed in the national capital.
The bench also asked whether the Delhi government has complied with the court’s earlier order to take instructions on the suggestion by amicus curiae (friend of court) advocate Meera Bhatia that the authorities should consider placing hoardings or posters in buses and other public transport for creating awareness against eve-teasing.
Bhatia said hoardings or posters clearly mentioning that eve-teasing is a serious and punishable offence will act as a deterrent.
As the hearing began, the bench said it wanted to know what facilities or safeguards are being suggested and implemented in taxis for the safety of women passengers.
Bhatia said a majority of such vehicles don’t have panic buttons and, if installed, are not functional.
The city government’s counsel informed the court that 6630 CCTV cameras have been installed in vulnerable areas of the national capital as part of measures to strengthen women’s safety and they are functional.
The court had earlier granted time to the Delhi Police to consider the proposal of installing panic buttons on poles on which CCTV cameras are installed for helping women in distress.
The Delhi government counsel had informed the court that installation of ‘push-to-talk panic button’ on CCTV poles is under active consideration by Delhi Police’s technology division.
The court has been, from time to time, issuing directions for increasing the number of police officers in the city, installation of CCTV cameras in police stations as well as vulnerable or crime prone areas, reducing delay in testing of samples at forensic science laboratories (FSL) and ensuring speedy disbursal of compensation to victims of sexual assault.