Supreme Court says Centre dragging feet on CCTVs in Central firms

The Supreme Court on Tuesday brought up Centre for dragging its feet by looking for more time for setting up CCTV electronic cameras in the offices of Central probe agencies like the CBI NIA, ED and others.

On December 2, the top court had directed the Centre to set up CCTV cams and tape-recording devices at the offices of investigating firms– NIA, CBI, ED, DRI, and so on– which have the power of arrest and to perform interrogations.

On Tuesday, the matter came up for hearing concerning the compliance of the order. The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, looked for adjournment in the matter. Revealing its displeasure, a bench headed by Justice R.F. Nariman told the Centre’s counsel that it is setting an impression that the Centre is dragging its feet in the matter. Mehta responded that adjournment was looked for, as the matter may have ramifications.The bench responded it is not concerned about ramifications. “This worries the right of people. We are not accepting the excuses”, stated the bench. The leading court also queried Mehta on the aspect of allowance of funds for installation of CCTVs in Central probe agencies.Mehta advised the bench to overlook the note seeking adjournment and sought some time to file an affidavit in the matter. The leading court provided three weeks to the Centre to submit an affidavit mentioning monetary expense for allowance of CCTV video cameras and timeline for installation.The bench also analyzed the chart submitted by amicus curiae senior advocate Sidharth Dave in connection with the timeline looked for by numerous state governments following court’s order.The top court has given 5 months to the state federal governments to set up CCTV in police stations.For poll bound states– West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry– the leading court directed the implementation of CCTVs in police headquarters till December end this year. The bench offered 9 months for Uttar Pradesh and 8 months for Madhya Pradesh to comply with its order on installation of CCTV cameras. The top court has actually scheduled the matter for additional hearing after Holi vacation.The top court had noted that whenever there is information of force being used at police headquarters resulting in severe injury and/or custodial deaths, it is needed that persons be complimentary to grumble for a redressal of the exact same.”As the majority of these agencies perform interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs will be compulsorily set up in all workplaces where such interrogation and holding of implicated takes place in the same way as it would in a police headquarters”, the top court had said.It likewise highlighted that CCTV systems that need to be set up should be geared up with night vision and should always consist of audio along with video footage.The leading court said crucial of all is the storage of CCTV camera video which can be done in digital video recorders and/or network video recorders.”CCTV cams need to then be set up with such recording systems so that the data that is saved therein shall be maintained for a duration of 18 months”, added the court.

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