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Following SC order, govt requested investigating agencies, states to install CCTVs in police stations and other premises

While ordering the installation of CCTV cameras at law enforcement agencies, the apex court had also held that the footage should be retained for a certain period of time. 

Following a Supreme Court judgement in December 2020 directing states and Union Territories to install CCTV cameras in all police stations and offices of central investigating agencies, another request was made by the Indian government to such agencies to allocate a part of their budget for this, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in response to a question in Lok Sabha.

However, it also added that it does not have information “regarding number of police stations having CCTVs”.

Why it matters: There have been several instances of custodial violence or torture that have come to the fore over time. CCTVs in police stations and central investigative agencies could bring more accountability around how these departments behave with people while they are in custody. The Supreme Court order from 2020 had taken this into cognisance while delivering its judgement.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said that following the judgement in December, another hearing was held on April 6, 2021, wherein the Supreme Court “directed for allocation of budget to the central agencies within a month from the date of order and for implementation of complete order within a period of six months from the date of allocation of budgets.”

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He further informed that on April 13, 2021, central investigative agencies were requested to allocate provisions for CCTVs in their budget. “States/Union Territories are already impleaded in the case for filing status report on installation of CCTV Cameras in Police Stations, directly before the Hon’ble Court. As police is a State subject the information regarding number of police stations having CCTVs is not maintained at the level of Central Government,” Rai said adding the State/UT governments were given an advisory in this regard on August 8.

What did the Supreme Court order say?

According to the order, CCTV cameras should be installed across a given police station, including the main gate of the police station, all lock-ups, areas outside the lock-up room, all corridors, reception, all verandas/outhouses, inspector’s room, and even outside toilets. The data captured by these cameras should be stored for a period of 18 months, the order said.

Apart from police stations, CCTV cameras will have to be installed at the offices of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), and any other central agency office which does interrogations, and has the power to arrest people, the apex court said.

“[…] it shall be clearly mentioned therein that a person has a right to complain about human rights violations to the National/State Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Court or the Superintendent of Police or any other authority empowered to take cognizance of an offence. It shall further mention that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of violation of his human rights.” — the Supreme Court in its judgement

Telangana police to install 10,330 cameras in 774 police stations

A few months after the Supreme Court order, a Rs 75 crore request for proposal (RFP) was put out on behalf of the Telangana State Police Department by the Telangana State Technology Services (TSTS) for the installation of 10,330 CCTV cameras (both outdoor and indoor) at various places in and around 624 police stations.

Each police station will have a CCTV control room and will be connected to the central command. If necessary, a third-party network service provider can also connect to the network. “The CCTV system should capture the live video and audio stream, store, retrieve analyze video images and audio tracks to enable surveillance and monitoring thus increase operational efficiency. The CCTV system should have the video motion detection enabled on all cameras to minimise the storage space when there is no movement in the night at each of the sites,” the RFP said.

As of now, there are already 2,416 CCTVs in about 150 Telangana police stations, according to the tender.

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Full question and answer

(a) whether the Supreme Court had earlier ordered installation of CCTV in  all the Police Stations across the country with night vision and keep  footage for twelve months including in the offices of all the investigating agencies;(

b) if so, the details thereof;

(c) the number of offices of investigating agencies including police  stations installed with CCTVs;

(d) whether Supreme Court has expressed its concern due to delay in  installation of CCTV and asked all the States, Union Territories and Government for the reasons for delay in executing its order and submit  a roadmap for its installation including expenditure involved for this
purpose; and

(e) the action taken or being taken by the Government in this regard in  consultation with States/UTs?ANSWER

Answer

(a) to (e): The Hon’ble Supreme Court, in its order dated 02.12.2020, gave  detailed direction to States/Union Territories and Union of India for  installation of CCTV cameras in all police stations and offices of central  investigation agencies. The apex court in its last hearing held on 06.04.2021, directed for allocation of budget to the central agencies within one monthfrom the date of order and for implementation of complete order within a  period of six months from the date of allocation of budgets. The central investigation agencies have been requested on 13th April, 2021 for allocation  of budget and installation of CCTV cameras in their offices within the  timeframe given by the Hon’ble Court. States/Union Territories are already  impleaded in the case for filing status report on installation of CCTV  Cameras in Police Stations, directly before the Hon’ble Court.

As police is a  State subject the information regarding number of police stations having  CCTVs is not maintained at the level of Central Government.An advisory dated 8.7.2021 has been issued to State/UT Governments  for installation of CCTV cameras in all police stations.Although ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the  seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, financial assistance for
modernisation of State police forces is provided under the scheme of ‘Assistance to States for Modernisation of Police’. Under this scheme, States  have been given flexibility to formulate State Action Plan (SAPs) as per their  strategic priorities and requirements. It may also be noted that in the light of  order dated 2.12.2020 of Hon’ble Supreme Court, the State Governments had  also been advised to include their requirement of installing CCTV cameras in  each and every police station in their proposals for the year 202122.

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