The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Centre to compulsorily install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of central agencies like National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which have the power to carry out “interrogations”.
The CCTVs and recording equipment, the court said, would be used as a measure to protect the fundamental right to dignity and life.
A three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman specifically ordered the Centre to have CCTVs and recording equipment installed in the offices of the CBI, NIA, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and “any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest”.
“As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a police station,” Justice Nariman directed.
Likewise every police station in every State should be under similar CCTV coverage as a deterrent against custodial torture.
Oversight Committees to monitor the installation, use, functioning, budgetary requirements and repair of the CCTV cameras should be constituted at State and district levels, the apex court ordered. Large posters informing people about the CCTV coverage should be prominently placed at the offices of these central agencies and police stations.
These posters would clearly mention “that a person has a right to complain about human rights violations to the National/State Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Court or the Superintendent of Police or any other authority empowered to take cognizance of an offence”.
They would also highlight that CCTV footage would be preserved for a certain minimum time period not less than six months. A victim of human rights within the precincts of these offices has right to secure the footage.
The court ordered that the Principal Secretary/Cabinet Secretary/Home Secretary of each State/ Union Territory should give it a “firm action plan with exact timelines for compliance” within the next six weeks.