Issuing a new standard operating procedure (SOP), the Delhi government has curtailed the role of Delhi Police over the 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras being installed across the capital, sending a set of rules prepared by a committee led by Lt-Governor Anil Baijal to cold storage. The rules, issued by Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain, limit the police’s role to just choosing CCTV spots in consultation with resident welfare associations, market associations and the PWD.
The L-G panel had recommended that police be made the licensing authority on CCTVs under the Delhi Police Act, 1978.
The rules are also silent on the privacy aspect of surveillance, storage, sharing, retention and potential misuse of footage. The draft SOP — Delhi Rules for Regulation of CCTV Camera Systems in NCT of Delhi, 2018 — had relevant provisions of the IT Rules, 2011, and IT Act, 2000, incorporated within them.
Last June, after the L-G panel submitted its report, the AAP government had mounted strong opposition, with CM Arvind Kejriwal sitting in front of Baijal’s residence on a dharna. Eventually, the draft SOP was never issued.
As per a copy of the PWD’s SOP, under which CCTVs are being currently installed, ownership of cameras will “remain with PWD”, contrary to suggestions that it will belong to the revenue department. The SOP was shared in response to an RTI application filed by The Indian Express.
Under the notified rules, the feed from the cameras will be provided to RWA representatives, local police, area DCP and PWD. Mobile numbers will be fed into the system so that an automated SMS is sent in case of an alarm.
Power required to run the surveillance cameras will be taken from the “nearest available source, which could be someone’s residence”, the rules state, adding that money will be reimbursed.
“A team of representatives of four agencies — namely RWA or market association, PWD, local police and installation engineer — will together decide the number of CCTVs required and their locations. Plan will be presented in the… RWA for objections/suggestions,” the SOP states.
The L-G panel had recommended that every owner and data controller of CCTVs shall report to the DCP (Licensing) through a form detailing the purpose, numbers and location, manner of usage, handling and storage of data from the cameras.
Asked if the PWD will adopt the rules prepared by the L-G committee, the department said, “Yes, if finally issued by statutory authority.”