The Delhi Police has admitted to using drones during the legislative assembly elections and the riots that took place in Delhi in February. In response to an RTI filed by MediaNama (given below), the Delhi Police’s North East Division said that the department “hired” drones from the “open market” under the competency of HOO (Head of Offices) through concerned SHOs. Delhi’s North East district was the epicentre of the riots that claimed at least 53 lives last months. Hiring drones from the “open market” instead of procuring/buying them means that the Delhi Police doesn't have to issue a request for proposal, which would otherwise contain technical specifications of the drones. In the absence of such a document, it is difficult to ascertain the kind of drones the Delhi Police used, and what their capabilities were. This suggests a lack of transparency in the entire process. The hired drones would also have to be returned to respective companies, which is highly problematic since those companies could have access to the footage the police recorded. No authorisation in 'writing': In response to our request for a copy of authorisation orders given for the deployment of drones by the Delhi Police in the last 6 months, or 12 months, the North East Division replied that no such orders were issued in writing. Not issuing written orders before carrying out surveillance using drones suggests that there is no accountability when it comes to usage of drones by the Delhi Police, and the police can…
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