New Delhi: The Supreme Court directed the Centre on Wednesday to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies, including the CBI, the ED, and National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest.
A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said that states and Union Territories (UTs) should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at each and every police station, making them imperative at all entry and exit points, main gate, all lock-ups, all corridors, lobby and reception area as also areas outside the lock-up room.
The apex court, which had earlier ordered the installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to check human rights abuses, said that as most of the probe agencies including Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence, and Serious Fraud Investigation Office carry out interrogation in their offices, CCTVs be ‘compulsorily installed’ in all offices where such questioning takes place and accused are kept.
It said the 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 system which allows storage of data for the maximum period possible, and in any case not below one year.
“In addition, the Union of India is also directed to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest,” said the bench, also comprising Justices K M Joseph and Aniruddha Bose.
“As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a police station,” the bench said in its order.
The top court said that in September this year, it had impleaded all the states and UTs in the matter to find out the exact position of CCTV cameras in each police station as well as the constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with the April 3, 2018 order.
The apex court, while dealing with a matter related to custodial torture, had in July this year taken note of a 2017 case in which it had ordered the installation of CCTV cameras in all the police stations to check human rights abuses, videography of crime scene, and setting up of a Central Oversight Committee and such a panel in every state and Union Territory.