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Indian Polity

CCTV in Police Stations: SC

  • 05 Dec 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has asked the States and Union Territories Governments to ensure that CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras are installed in each and every Police Station.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • 2015: In the case of D K Basu vs State of West Bengal, the SC directed that CCTVs should be installed in every police station and prison to check human rights abuses.
    • 2018: The SC asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up a Central Oversight Body (COB) to implement the plan of action with respect to videography in the crime scene during investigation.
    • Recently, the SC has found that the majority of the states and UTs lack the details of installing CCTVs in police stations.
  • Latest Directions:
    • States and UTs should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at each and every police station, at all entry and exit points, main gate, lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception as also areas outside the lock-up rooms so that no part is left uncovered.
    • CCTV systems must be equipped with night vision and have audio as well as video footage and it shall be mandatory for the Centre, states and UTs to purchase such systems which allow storage of data for maximum period possible, at least one year.
    • The Centre should install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest.
      • Oversight Bodies should be extended to state and district level.
  • Constitutional Dimension: The current directions by the SC are furtherance of the fundamental right enshrined in Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution.
    • Article 21: States that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
    • The expanded scope of Article 21 has been explained by the SC in the case of Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (1993) and the SC has itself provided the list of some of the rights covered under Article 21 on the basis of earlier pronouncements and some of them are listed below:
      • The right to go abroad, The right to privacy, The right to shelter, The right to social justice and economic empowerment, The right against solitary confinement, The right against handcuffing, The right against delayed execution, The right against custodial death, The right against public hanging, Doctors’ assistance, Protection of cultural heritage, Right of every child to a full development, Right to pollution free water and air.
  • Data Related to Violence in Custody:
    • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, between 2001 and 2018, only 26 policemen were convicted of custodial violence despite 1,727 such deaths being recorded in India.
      • Only 4.3% of the 70 deaths in 2018 were attributed to injuries during custody due to physical assault by police.
    • Apart from custodial deaths, more than 2,000 human rights violation cases were also recorded against the police between 2000 and 2018. And only 344 policemen were convicted in those cases.
  • India is not a signatory of United Nations Convention Against Torture which requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is a reason to believe they will be tortured.
  • CCTV:
    • It is a Television system in which signals are not publicly distributed but are monitored, primarily for surveillance and security purposes.
    • Components: It consists of basic components that do not vary much from system-to-system. At a high level, these include a camera (with a lens), cabling, a digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR), and a video monitor.
    • Security Uses:
      • It is one of the most important physical security controls to address terrorism and other security threats.
      • CCTV has incomparable value as a forensic tool as well as in deterring all types of physical and electronic threats.


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