SC reserves order in plea for CCTVs in all police stations

The court has directed the Senior Advocate to submit a comprehensive report by next Friday on technical issues of installing CCTVs to check police atrocity


A Bench comprising Justices Rohinton F. Nariman, KM Joseph and Aniruddha Bose of the Supreme Court reserved orders in a matter pertaining to the installation of CCTVs in police stations across the country today.

Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, Amicus Curiae was directed to submit a comprehensive note by November 27 on the questions regarding preservation of CCTV footage for more than 45 days and for the integration of audio in the footage.

While taking cognisance of all State submissions on the issue, Counsel for Tamil Nadu submitted that the State government has installed CCTVs at “all the important areas of police stations.” To this, Justice Rohinton remarked, “Unimportant places are where accused will be thrashed by Police”, as reported by Bar and Bench.


The Bench was hearing this matter on CCTV installation in police stations in pursuance of its 2018 order directing CCTV cameras to be fitted in every police station in the country with a view to curb police excess. The court had also asked the top law officer, KK Venugopal to assist the Bench in the same.

On November 24, before the three judge Bench, Siddhartha Dave submitted that 15 States had responded to the notice issued by the Supreme Court and had filed Affidavits on compliance of the directions. Senior Advocate Dave added, “Sikkim has installed two CCTVs in their prisons. Mizoram has installed 147 of them. But nobody has said anything about where they are placed. Boundary wall doesn’t serve purpose”, as per LiveLaw reports.  

Noting that the affidavits lacked uniformity, the Supreme Court Bench said that a clear rule needs to be laid down. “Affidavits have been filed by persons of several stature up through Superintendent of Police, West Bengal has done through commissioner of Home Department. We have to lay down clearly who should file this affidavit.” To this, Amicus Curiae suggested that the Home Secretary of each State could do the needful.

Moving further, Attorney General KK Venugopal made his submissions, “In rural areas, internet needs to be provided as it is needed for the CCTV. States should ensure electricity and the internet is available to these police stations. Questionnaires also need to be circulated to elicit information needed. A helpline to the oversight committee needs to be put in place so that any atrocities being committed can be brought to light immediately.”

The Supreme Court clarified that they are primarily on the installation of the cameras as the court was on the subject of ‘police atrocity’. Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivediappearing for State of West Bengal, then submitted that the Committee could have the Police Commissioner, District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police. Additionally, in West Bengal, the police stations were equipped with CCTVs and the Committee would be formed to post a discussion with the Chief Minister.

Advocate Nittany Ramakrishnan also submitted that well-known members of the citizenry must also be a part of the oversight committee and not just independent bureaucrats.

Justice Nariman then said, “CCTV camera mechanisms automatically delete anything beyond 45 days. If there is an atrocity, it should be reported immediately and there should be an attempt to preserve the footage. Presence of citizens and NHRC members in the Committee will be taken up in future orders. Now we will lay down the basics.”

During the hearing, Justice Joseph inquired about audio facilities in the footage and the issue of privacy. “If there is no powerful microphone, then the audio won’t be picked up. How do we counter that? Also, CCTV confined to locker-rooms will lead to sports cropping up where abuses will take place. But privacy must also be taken into consideration.”

On the objective of deciding on CCTV with audio facilities, Dave submitted before the Bench that, “We are in the first step of installation. CCTV with audio is more expensive than without and thus states prefer the same.”

The matter is slated to be heard on November 27.


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