The victims have the right to get the copy of CCTV footage of interrogation by Police/NIA/CBI/ED: SC

The victims have the right to get the copy of CCTV footage of interrogation by Police/NIA/CBI/ED: SC

“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. It shall further mention that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of a violation of his human rights.”

In a landmark verdict, the Apex Court has held that in case of any human right violation by investigating agencies like police, CBI, NIA, ED Etc, the victims have the right to get the copy of CCTV footage of interrogation and also to approach 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.

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,” The bench added.

The court issued these guidelines while disposing a SLP, which raised the issues regarding audio-video recordings of statements and the installation of CCTV cameras in police stations.

The Top Court has directed the Central Government to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of Central Agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). It further added that CCTV cameras and recording equipment should also be installed in the offices of any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest. The court has also noted that the State and Union Territory Governments should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every Police Station functioning under them.

While impleading the states and Union Territories, it had observed that in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2018) 5 SCC 311, it was directed that the first phase of implementation of crime scene videography must be introduced by 15th July, 2018, at least at some places as per viability and priority determined by the COB. It was also directed therein that with a view to check human rights abuse, CCTV cameras be installed in all police stations as well as in prisons.

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The Central Government was also directed to file an affidavit on the constitution and workings of the Central Oversight Body. The court ruled that the COB has to perform the same function as the SLOC for the offices of investigative/enforcement agencies both in Delhi and outside Delhi wherever they are located.

“The SLOC and the COB shall give directions to all Police Stations, investigative/enforcement agencies to prominently display at the entrance and inside the police stations/offices of investigative/enforcement agencies about the coverage of the concerned premises by CCTV. This shall be done by large posters in English, Hindi and vernacular language. In addition to the above, it shall be clearly mentioned therein 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. It shall further mention that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of violation of his human rights.”

“Since these directions are in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and since nothing substantial has been done in this regard for a period of over 2½ years since our first Order dated 03.04.2018, the Executive/Administrative/police authorities are to implement this Order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible. Affidavits will be filed by the Principal Secretary/Cabinet Secretary/Home Secretary of each State/ Union Territory giving this Court a firm action plan with exact timelines for compliance with today’s Order. This is to be done within a period of six weeks from today.” The judgment said.

Case Name: PARAMVIR SINGH SAINI vs. BALJIT SINGH

Citation: SLP (CRIMINAL) NO.3543 of 2020

CORAM: Justice RF Nariman, KM Joseph and Aniruddha Bose

[The victims have the right to get the copy of CCTV footage of interrogation by Police/NIA/CBI/ED: SC]

Also Read: Section 14 Of The Limitation Act, 1963 Has No Application In Criminal Proceedings: Chhattisgarh High Court

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