The Delhi High Court Wednesday questioned the rationale behind Delhi government’s ambitious project of installing CCTV cameras in all classrooms of its 5,000 schools. Observing that every measure of security has its flipside, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed Delhi government’s counsel to present a status report explaining the circumstances under which the government took the decision.
“What is the material available to you (Delhi government), based on which you have arrived at the decision,” the bench asked, adding that “it (the decision) needed to be examined”.
The bench also asked the counsel for guidelines and parameters of the project before August 21 — the next date of hearing.
Defending the government’s stand, additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose submitted that the decision was taken in interest of the students and parents.
“There are issues like mid-day meals, teachers’ attendance, and provision of books to students,” Ghosh said, adding that students’ safety and their right to education is their prime concern.
“The decision to install CCTVs was taken in the wake of the murder of a seven-year-old at a private school in Gurgaon, followed by the rape of a toddler in a Delhi school,” Ghose submitted.
He also submitted that the project will allow parents to see their children in classes on a real-time basis.
The court was hearing a plea by Daniel George, who through his counsel Jai Anant Dehadrai sought direction to the Delhi government and others to set aside the proposal to supply, install, test and commission 1,42,800 CCTV cameras within government schools.
The plea said that installation of CCTV cameras would subject children to constant video-monitoring, permitting indiscriminate distribution of the video-footage to a variety of persons without any regulatory mechanism in place.
“It is stated that world over, there is a common consensus that unless there are clear privacy guidelines in place, school-going children are not to be subjected to video-surveillance, as the same are in violation of their basic rights of privacy,” the plea added.