Supreme Court passed this Order in furtherance to earlier Orders as follows:
From Paras 2 and 3,
2. This Court, vide Order dated 03.04.2018 in SLP (Crl) No. 2302 of 2017, reported as Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2018) 5 SCC 311, directed that a Central Oversight Body (hereinafter referred to as the “COB”) be set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs to implement the plan of action with respect to the use of videography in the crime scene during the investigation. This Court, while considering the directions issued in D.K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal & Others (2015) 8 SCC 744, held that there was a need for further directions that in every State an oversight mechanism be created whereby an independent committee can study the CCTV camera footages and periodically publish a report of its observations thereon. The COB was further directed to issue appropriate instructions in this regard at the earliest.
From Paras 5, 6 and 7,
5. This Court, vide Order dated 16.07.2020, issued notice in the instant Special Leave Petition to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the question of audio-video recordings of Section 161 CrPC statements as is provided by Section 161 (3) proviso, as well as the larger question as to installation of CCTV cameras in police stations generally. While issuing notice this Court also took note of the directions in Shafhi Mohammad (supra).
6. This Court, vide Order dated 16.09.2020, impleaded all the States and Union Territories to find out the exact position of CCTV cameras qua each Police Station as well as the constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with the Order dated 03.04.2018 of this Court in Shafhi Mohammad (supra).
7. Pursuant to the said directions of this Court, Compliance Affidavits and Action Taken Reports were filed by 14 States (till 24.11.2020), namely, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Nagaland, Karnataka, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur; and 2 Union Territories, namely, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry.
Duties of SLOC and DLOC are as follows:
12. It shall be the duty of the SLOC to see that the directions passed by this Court are carried out. Amongst others, the duties shall consist of:
a) Purchase, distribution and installation of CCTVs and its equipment; b) Obtaining the budgetary allocation for the same;
c) Continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipment;
d) Carrying out inspections and addressing the grievances received from the DLOC; and
e) To call for monthly reports from the DLOC and immediately address any concerns like faulty equipment.
Likewise, the DLOC shall have the following obligations:
a) Supervision, maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipment;
b) Continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipment;
c) To interact with the Station House Officer (hereinafter referred to as the “SHO”) as to the functioning and maintenance of CCTVs and its equipment; and
d) To send monthly reports to the SLOC about the functioning of CCTVs and allied equipment.
e) To review footage stored from CCTVs in the various Police Stations to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred but are not reported.
13. It is obvious that none of this can be done without allocation of adequate funds for the same, which must be done by the States’/Union Territories’ Finance Departments at the very earliest.
One of the most important aspect is settled here… Awesome…
14. The duty and responsibility for the working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs shall be that of the SHO of the police station concerned. It shall be the duty and obligation of the SHO to immediately report to the DLOC any fault with the equipment or malfunctioning of CCTVs. If the CCTVs are not functioning in a particular police station, the concerned SHO shall inform the DLOC of the arrest / interrogations carried out in that police station during the said period and forward the said record to the DLOC. If the concerned SHO has reported malfunctioning or non-functioning of CCTVs of a particular Police Station, the DLOC shall immediately request the SLOC for repair and purchase of the equipment, which shall be done immediately.
15. The Director General/Inspector General of Police of each State and Union Territory should issue directions to the person in charge of a Police Station to entrust the SHO of the concerned Police Station with the responsibility of assessing the working condition of the CCTV cameras installed in the police station and also to take corrective action to restore the functioning of all non-functional CCTV cameras. The SHO should also be made responsible for CCTV data maintenance, backup of data, fault rectification etc.
Regarding placement of CCTV cameras:
16. The State and Union Territory Governments should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every Police Station functioning in the respective State and/or Union Territory. Further, 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; main gate of the police station; all lock-ups; all corridors; lobby/the 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.
17. CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision and must necessarily 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 the States/Union Territories to provide the same as expeditiously as possible using any mode of providing electricity, including solar/wind power. The internet systems that are provided must also be systems which provide clear image resolutions and audio. Most important of all is the storage of CCTV camera footage which can be done in digital video recorders and/or network video recorders. CCTV cameras must then be installed with such recording systems so that the data that is stored thereon shall be preserved for a period of 18 months. If the recording equipment, available in the market today, does not have the capacity to keep the recording for 18 months but for a lesser period of time, it shall be mandatory for all States, Union Territories and the Central Government to purchase one which allows storage for the maximum period possible, and, in any case, not below 1 year. It is also made clear that this will be reviewed by all the States so as to purchase equipment which is able to store the data for 18 months as soon as it is commercially available in the market. The affidavit of compliance to be filed by all States and Union Territories and Central Government shall clearly indicate that the best equipment available as of date has been purchased.
18. Whenever there is information of force being used at police stations resulting in serious injury and/or custodial deaths, it is necessary that persons be free to complain for a redressal of the same. Such complaints may not only be made to the State Human Rights Commission, which is then to utilise its powers, more particularly under Sections 17 and 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, for redressal of such complaints, but also to Human Rights Courts, which must then be set up in each District of every State/Union Territory under Section 30 of the aforesaid Act. The Commission/Court can then immediately summon CCTV camera footage in relation to the incident for its safe keeping, which may then be made available to an investigation agency in order to further process the complaint made to it.
And, finally explicitly publicising that the said premises is under CCTV monitoring in vernacular and English languages.
20. The SLOC and the COB (where applicable) shall give directions to all Police Stations, investigative/enforcement agencies to prominently display at the entrance and inside the police stations/offices of investigative/enforcement agencies about the coverage of the concerned premises by CCTV. This shall be done by large posters in English, Hindi and vernacular language. In addition to the above, it shall be clearly mentioned therein that a person has a right to complain about human rights violations to the National/State Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Court or the Superintendent of Police or any other authority empowered to take cognizance of an offence. It shall further mention that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of violation of his human rights.
Paramvir Singh Saini Vs Baljit Singh and Ors on 02 Dec 2020