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In Light of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, SC Gives Directions for Installation of CCTV Systems in All Police Stations

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In light of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, a Full Bench of The Supreme Court ordered the installation of CCTV recording systems in all offices of interrogation and arrest of persons. This included police stations, offices of NIA, ED, etc. The Bench issued these directions in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. These directions were passed by the Bench, while adjudicating the matter in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh.

Background to the Case

The Supreme Court in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2018) 5 SCC 311, gave directions to set up a Central Oversight Body (“COB”). The Ministry of Home Affairs was directed to implement videography in the crime scene during the investigation. The first phase of this process was to be implemented by 2018. It had also given directions to install CCTV cameras in the premises of the police stations across the country.

In D.K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal & Others (2015) 8 SCC 744, the Apex Court gave further directions that an oversight mechanism in every State could be created, whereby an independent committee can study the CCTV camera footage. The bench stated that a report of the same was to be periodically published stating the observations of the committee. The first phase of which be implemented by 15.07.2018.

The Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a Central Oversight Body (“COB”) in 2018. It was to oversee the implementation of photography and videography in the crime scene by the State and the Union Government. 

The Supreme Court, through various orders, asked the various Governments to submit compliance reports of the actions taken. The orders also inquired about the status of audio-video recordings of Section 161 CrPC statements of the witnesses.


Only 14 states had submitted their report. Also, the Action Taken Reports submitted by the Governments failed to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras in each Police Station. Further, the total number of CCTV cameras installed, their working condition and positioning, etc., failed to be mentioned in the reports submitted. The status of oversight committees in each state and union territory was also missing. Nothing substantial was observed to been done in this regard for over 2½ years since the Supreme Court’s orders.

Court’s Observations

The Bench asked all the Governments to submit a report on the status of the directions given the previous judgments. Detailed information regarding oversight committees and the installation of CCTV in police stations with required facilities were to be submitted within 6 weeks.

The Bench opined that it was necessary that whenever there is the information of force being used at police stations resulting in severe injury or custodial deaths, persons must be free to complain for redressal. 

The Bench also mentioned setting up of Human Rights Court in every district of the country as stipulated in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Purpose of the Installation of CCTVs 

The Bench opined that injuries and custodial deaths occurring in police stations were human rights violations. Persons could file such complaints at the State Human Rights Commission.

The Court could then summon the CCTV camera footage concerning the incident for its safekeeping. This footage may then be made available to an investigation agency to process further the complaint made to it.

Installation of CCTVs at All Police Stations in the Country

In light of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the Bench issued detailed guidelines for installing CCTV cameras at all entry and exit points of the police station. This included the main gate, all lock-ups, corridors, common areas, outside toilets, and all other rooms in the station’s compound. Cameras were required to be installed at the back of the station as well. Further, the CCTV systems must be equipped with night vision and must consist of audio and video footage. In this regard, image and audio clarity have to be maintained. 

Appropriate internet facilities for the same have to ensure by the respective Governments. The Bench directed the camera footage to be kept for 18 months or at least 1 year.

Further, the Bench ordered the Central Government to install CCTVs in all offices of arrest and interrogation. This included the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), etc., among others.

Working Conditions of the CCTVs to Be Ensured 

The Station Head Officer (SHO) of each police station must report to the DLOC for any faulty or malfunctioning equipment, which must be replaced immediately. The SHO must check the working condition and backup of data of the CCTVs regularly.

Constitution of Oversight Committee in Each State

The Oversight committees were to be constituted at State as well as District level. They were to keep check of the human rights violations that have occurred but not have been reported.

The State Level Oversight Committee (“SLOC”) was to be headed by the Secretary of the Home Department. Its functions would include installation of the CCTVs, obtaining budgetary allocations for the same, and carrying out inspections while addressing any grievances.

The District Level Oversight Committee (“DLOC”) was to be headed by the Divisional Commissioner. The committee’s functions included maintenance and monitoring of the CCTVs, review the footage, and send monthly reports to the SLOC. 

The Central Oversight Body (COB) shall perform the same function as the SLOC for the offices of investigative/enforcement agencies mentioned above.

Allocation of Funds

The Bench ordered the Finance Departments of all the Governments to allocate funds for installing the CCTVs in all police stations and forming the Oversight Committees.

Display of Information Regarding the Camera Recording

All Police Stations, investigative agencies must prominently display large posters in English, Hindi, and vernacular language about the coverage of the concerned premises by CCTV. The information must include the right to complain about human rights violations to the National/State Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Court, or the Superintendent of Police. The directions passed, stated that the published information should further include that CCTV footage was to be preserved for a minimum of six months and that the victim had a right to have the same secured in the event of a violation of his human rights.

Court’s Decision

The Bench issued strict orders to all the Governments to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in every Police Station. It issued guidelines for the constitution of Oversight committees at the State as well as District level for the compliance of its directions.

All the above directions were to be completed within 6 weeks. The next hearing of the case was listed to be on 27 January 2021.

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