The Bombay High Court recently directed the Secretary, Home department, to file an affidavit explaining the progress made and the steps taken on its order to provide CCTV cameras in all rooms of all police stations within three weeks.
In August 2014, in a petition filed by Leonard Valdaris and three others, including a minor, who were picked up by the police on the intervening night of April 15 and 16, along with Valdaris’s son Agnelo (24), who was allegedly tortured and killed in police custody, the HC had passed an order directing the state government to immediately install and maintain closed circuit television (CCTV) with rotating cameras in every corridor, room and lock-up of each police station so that every part of the police station is covered 24×7.
The order also said that the tapes of the CCTV cameras should be preserved for a minimum period of one year and responsibility of ensuring that the CCTV system is kept operational shall be that of the senior police officer in charge of the police station.
A division bench of Justice B P Dharmadhikari and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai said, “This court can always pass appropriate orders and also protect the accused being taken to the police station. However, before passing any orders, we direct the Secretary, Home department, to place on record appropriate affidavit explaining the progress made and steps taken for compliance with court directions within a period of three weeks…”
An affidavit was also filed by Sanjay Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Home department, last month, stating that currently 5,233 cameras were installed in police stations district-wise across the state. The Home department has given approval for installation of CCTV cameras in 1,100 police stations across the state. The department is making “sincere efforts to execute this project” as per court directions, the affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, a government resolution was issued on November 11, 2015, stating that in a pilot project, 25 police stations would be installed with CCTV cameras. As per the resolution, CCTV cameras were installed in five rooms of each police station and it has been decided to preserve the data for one year.
The affidavit adds that an order was passed by the court directing inspection of 25 police stations. P G Deshmukh, Joint Secretary, Home department, submitted a report stating that at various rooms of the 25 police stations, the CCTV cameras were not installed as per the direction. Thereafter, another government resolution was passed on January 6, 2017, for installation of CCTVs at remaining rooms to comply with the court orders.