The Supreme Court has given the Centre a deadline of three months, till July 18, to comply with the directions in its December 2020 judgment to install CCTV or closed circuit television cameras in the offices of its investigative agencies, for the sake of transparency and protection of human rights of accused and undertrials.
A Bench led by Justice B.R. Gavai noted how “disheartening” it was that several agencies had not taken any steps to comply with the court order.
“It is disheartening to note that insofar as the Union of India is concerned, out of seven investigating agencies no steps of sincere nature have been taken in case of four investigating agencies,” the apex court observed in a recent affidavit.
The court directed that in case the Centre chose not to comply and file an affidavit, “the Secretary (Home), Union of India, shall remain personally present before the court on the next date of hearing to show cause as to why an action for committing contempt should not be taken against them.”
In the December 2020 verdict, a three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman (retired) had specifically directed the Centre to install CCTVs and recording equipment in the offices of the Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, 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”.
In its latest order, the court noted that the Centre and the States were yet to fully comply with the judgment.
Only 4 States, UTs complied
“This is not an adversarial litigation. When this court had issued directions, in order to maintain transparency at the police station and the officers of the investigating agencies, the Union of India and the State Governments/Union Territories ought to have complied with the directions,” Justice Gavai’s Bench underscored.
The order noted that only two Union Territories — Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Ladakh — as well as the States of Mizoram and Goa have fully complied with the directions, making budgetary allocations as well as actually installing the CCTV cameras.
The court ordered that the Chief Secretary or Administrator of any State Government or Union Territory, which failed to comply with the court direction and failed to file the required affidavit before July 18, should also “personally remain present in this court on the next date of hearing, to show cause as to why an action for committing contempt should not be taken against them.”