The Gauhati High Court has instructed the Arunachal Pradesh government to accelerate the establishment of a centralized control center for police station CCTVs. This will improve monitoring and coordination among various stations in the state.
As a response to the court’s earlier instruction, the Assam Government has informed the court that so far 100 police stations have been installed with CCTVs in Phases 1 and 2, and further installations and commissions are been granted in other 197 police stations. The bench consisting of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Devashis Baruah had been informed that all the feeds of such police stations are being monitored at a centralized control room center in Ulubari, Guwahati.
The State Advocate General D. Saikia submitted information during a hearing of the Suo moto Public Interest litigation, which was registered after two accused individuals were lynched to death on February 19, 2018, at Tezu Police Station in Arunachal Pradesh. The court had previously instructed the Advocate General to investigate the status of CCTV systems in Assam’s police stations.
On May 15, the court directed Arunachal Pradesh to implement a comprehensive CCTV system in all police stations statewide, with data monitored by a central control room. Additional Advocate General B.D. Goswami informed the court that CCTVs have been installed in every station; however, establishing a centralized control center has been delayed due to connectivity issues. The court then ordered an expedited completion of this process.
Need for CCTV in every Police Station in India
The installation of CCTV surveillance cameras in every police station in India has become a crucial necessity. This topic gained more attention when the Supreme Court asked states, Union Territories to ensure that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are installed in all police stations.
This need for surveillance dates back to 2015, following the landmark case of DK Basu vs. the State of West Bengal. The Supreme Court directed that CCTVs be installed in every police station and prison to prevent human rights abuses. In this case, the court provided 11 essential guidelines for police personnel to follow during arrest, interrogation, and detention processes – commonly known as the DK Basu guidelines.
To monitor compliance with these rules and regulations and ensure no human rights abuses occur within police stations or prisons, CCTV footage is vital. In 2018, the Supreme Court requested that the Ministry of Home Affairs establish a central oversight body responsible for implementing videography at crime scenes during investigations.
However, recently it was discovered that most states and Union Territories have not yet implemented CCTV installations in their police stations. Installing CCTV cameras is imperative for preventing human rights abuses and ensuring fair interrogations without violence toward suspects across India’s law enforcement facilities.
States and Union territories must ensure CCTV cameras are installed in every police station, covering all entry and exit points, main gates, lockups, corridors, lobbies, receptions, and areas outside lockup rooms. The CCTV systems should have high-quality audio and video footage capabilities with a data storage capacity of at least one year. The central government should also install such cameras at the offices of investigating agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Custodial Violence: A Grave Human Rights Issue
Oversight bodies should operate at both state and district levels to monitor these installations. This initiative is rooted in the constitutional dimension provided by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which focuses on protecting life and personal liberty. No person shall be deprived of their life or personal liberty except according to legally established procedures.
The Supreme Court expanded Article 21’s scope in Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1993). Some rights covered under this article include going abroad, privacy protection, shelter access, social justice entitlements as well as economic empowerment.
The primary objective for installing CCTVs during police interrogations is to safeguard against solitary confinement abuses, handcuffing violations as well as custodial deaths during proceedings involving accused individuals or ongoing investigations. Ensuring proper oversight helps prevent potential violations by law enforcement officers while upholding citizens’ fundamental rights enshrined within Articles 21-22 of India’s Constitution.
Numerous records indicate that violence often occurs when suspects are taken into custody. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that between 2001 and 2018, only 26 police officers were convicted of custodial violence, even though there were 1,727 recorded deaths in India during this period. In fact, only 4.3% of the 70 deaths in 2019 resulted from injuries sustained during custody due to physical assault by police.
In addition to these custodial deaths, over 2,000 human rights violation cases were filed against the police between 2000 and 2018; however, merely 344 officers were convicted in those instances. This evidence strongly suggests that police personnel frequently engage in violent behavior while detaining individuals for questioning or other interventions.
Such misuse of power by law enforcement constitutes a grave violation of human rights against those taken into custody and must be addressed as a serious issue within our society. Thus the mandate of establishing CCTV surveillance in each and every police station in India is very important and Guwahati High Court regarding this issue had directed the Assam govt in the right way. Each and every state should bring such strict regulations for the establishment of the same.