Pulling up Tihar jail authorities and the Delhi government, the Delhi High Court has directed the Secretary, Minister of Home Affairs, to constitute a high-level committee to examine why CCTV cameras were not working at jail number 3, where 47 inmates were allegedly assaulted on September 14.
The court said the committee would also suggest state-of-the-art security measures, and comprise three members: a retired district judge, a senior officer of the National Informatics Centre or a government body with expertise in examining CCTVs, and an officer of the Delhi Police of the rank DCP or above.
The order comes after a writ petition was filed in court alleging violence between inmates and officers. While undertrials alleged “human rights violations”, claiming they were “mercilessly beaten by security officials”, jail authorities said “minimum force” was used to control inmates involved in a brawl.
The court, in an earlier hearing, had ordered medical examination the inmates, and since there was no footage, had sought a report on non-functional CCTVs.
Hearing the matter on November 1, Justice S Muralidhar and Justice I S Mehta made public a part of the report, which stated that of the 83 CCTV cameras in jail number 3, 64 were out of order between September 11 and September 21.
“Only 19 CCTV cameras were operational as a fault occurred in the server hard-disk. Therefore, the brawl could not be recorded to ascertain the veracity of the allegations,” stated the report.
Delhi government Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra also informed the court that of the 500 CCTVs located in the entire jail, 10% remained non-functional at any given point. He also said that there is only one person with the technical know-how to address complaints regarding CCTVs.
The court pulled up jail authorities and the Delhi government, saying that functional CCTVs in Tihar is a “non-compromisable imperative”. The court noted that Tihar Jail is “a high-security zone” with an inmate population of over 14,500, much higher than the sanctioned capacity of 6,000, but despite the overcrowding, it is sought to be projected as a “model jail”.
“The court is unable to appreciate how, for over 10 days, only 19 of 83 CCTV cameras were operational without immediate corrective action being taken… It is surprising that the inquiry report… does not concern itself with the obvious delay in getting CCTVs rectified,” the court said. Ordering the constitution of the panel, the court said it should not have any representative of the Delhi government, even though it can seek cooperation from the government as well as Tihar authorities.