“When people do not have objections to CCTVs in public places, parks or school corridors, then why are they opposed to having cameras in classrooms,” the Delhi High Court said Thursday, setting aside claims that children’s right to privacy would be affected if cameras are installed inside classrooms in Delhi government schools.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar sought to know what is “so special about classrooms” when photos and videos of students and individuals are captured through CCTVs in public places. The court was hearing a petition urging the court to issue an interim direction to stall procurement of cameras to be installed in classrooms.
The court also refused to stall the ongoing process of installing CCTVs in classrooms, which is being done as per the Delhi government’s proposal last year to install over 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras in its schools.
Last month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated the installation of 210 CCTV cameras at Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in Lajpat Nagar. He had also said that over 1,000 Delhi government schools will be equipped with CCTV cameras by November this year.
Hinting that there was nothing wrong with having CCTV cameras in classrooms, the bench said “every privacy is gone by” while walking on roads having closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
It said the objection on cameras should have been from the beginning of its installation. “There is special privacy in classrooms. What is that?,” the bench asked the petitioner’s advocate, Jai Dehadrai.
Dehadrai argued it was not healthy to have cameras inside classrooms where “children, including girls, often discuss personal things”. To which, Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose contended that the feed from the cameras would be password protected and accessible to only the parents of the kids.
The petition contended that installing cameras without any regulatory mechanism on access to its footage could lead to incidents of stalking and molestation.
The petitioner also sought a feasibility test amongst the target population of students and teachers, to understand the issues they face when it comes to surveillance.