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SC seeks information on mechanism to preserve CCTV footage

The Supreme Court on Tuesday contemplated a mechanism to preserve CCTV footage for more than 45 days and the integration of audio in it, as it reserved its orders in a matter pertaining to the installation of CCTVs in police stations across the country.

A bench comprising Justices R.F. Nariman, K.M. Joseph, and Aniruddha Bose said that CCTV camera mechanisms automatically delete anything beyond 45 days and attempts should be made to report immediately if there is an atrocity.

“There should be an attempt to preserve the footage. The presence of citizens and NHRC members in the Committee will be taken up in future orders. Now we will lay down the basics,” it said.

The bench also asked senior advocate Siddhartha Dave, the amicus curiae in the matter, to submit a comprehensive note by Friday, chalking out issues in connection with the preservation of CCTV footage for more than 45 days and also on the aspect of the integration of audio into the footage.

The top court, in 2018, had directed the installation of CCTVs in every police station in the country against the backdrop of rising custodial torture. Dave informed the bench that 15 states have filed affidavits on compliance with directions.

The top court had revived the matter after an incident of alleged police excesses took place in Punjab.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Dave were appointed to prepare a report on steps that should be taken.

Dave submitted that Sikkim has installed two CCTVs in their prisons and Mizoram has installed 147, but it is not clear where they have been installed.

The bench noted that additional affidavits were required to bring on record the total number of police stations in each district and also affix the responsibility of an individual to ensure that the CCTVs were functioning.

The AG submitted Internet should be provided in rural areas, which is required for the CCTVs and states should ensure electricity and internet are available in all police stations.

The bench noted that it is on police atrocities and an oversight committee to examine the CCTV footage to take immediate action. After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court reserved its verdict.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Paramvir Singh Saini, which raised issues with the audio-video recording of statements and installation of CCTVs in police stations.

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