SC orders 24x7 CCTV coverage at police stations, probe agencies

In an order of far reaching significance, the Supreme Court on Wednesday put the police, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence and Serious Fraud Investigation Office under CCTV surveillance to prevent custodial torture.

The court asked the Centre and states as well as UTs to compulsorily install CCTV cameras with night vision facility in all police stations with provision for storing recorded data for at least 12 months, and ideally for 18 months, to enable probe into allegations of custodial torture by police, CBI, NIA, ED, NCB, DRI and SFIO.

Asking state governments to allocate adequate funds for installation of CCTVs and fastening the responsibility of keeping them in working condition on station house officers, a bench of Justices R F Nariman, K M Joseph and Aniruddha Bose detailed how its order should be executed.

In order to ensure that no part of a police station is left uncovered, it is imperative to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at all entry and exit points, the main gate of the police station, all lock-ups, all corridors, lobby/reception area, all verandas/outhouses, inspector’s room, sub-inspector’s room, areas outside the lock-up room, station hall, in front of the police station compound,outside (not inside) washrooms/toilets, duty officer’s room, back part of the police station etc.”

The court laid down the specifics for execution of its order. “CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision and must consist of audio as well as video footage. In areas in which there is either no electricity and/or internet, it shall be the duty of states/UTs to provide the same. The SC ordered setting up of human rights courts in each district under the Protection of Human Rights Act.

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