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Supreme Court of India
Paramvir Singh Saini vs Baljit Singh on 2 December, 2020
Author: Rohinton Fali Nariman
REPORTABLE IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.3543 of 2020 PARAMVIR SINGH SAINI …PETITIONER VERSUS BALJIT SINGH & OTHERS ...RESPONDENTS R.F. Nariman, J.
1. We have heard Shri K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General for
India, Ms. Madhvi Divan, learned Addl. Solicitor General of India, Shri
Siddhartha Dave, learned Senior Advocate (appointed as Amicus
Curiae, vide Order dated 16.7.2020), Ms. Nitya Ramakrishnan,
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the intervenor and the learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the respective States and Union
2. This Court, vide Order dated 03.04.2018 in SLP (Crl) No. 2302 of
2017, reported as Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal
Pradesh (2018) 5 SCC 311, directed that a Central Oversight Body
Signature Not Verified
Digitally signed by
(hereinafter referred to as the “COB”) be set up by the Ministry of
Home Affairs to implement the plan of action with respect to the use
of videography in the crime scene during the investigation. This Court,
while considering the directions issued in D.K. Basu Vs. State of
West Bengal & Others (2015) 8 SCC 744, held that there was a need
for further directions that in every State an oversight mechanism be
created whereby an independent committee can study the CCTV
camera footages and periodically publish a report of its observations
thereon. The COB was further directed to issue appropriate
instructions in this regard at the earliest.
3. This Court further directed that the COB may issue appropriate
directions from time to time so as to ensure that use of videography
becomes a reality in a phased manner, the first phase of which be
implemented by 15.07.2018. The crime scene videography ought to
be introduced at least at some places as per viability and priority
determined by the COB.
4. Pursuant to the aforesaid directions a COB was constituted by the
Ministry of Home Affairs on 09.05.2018 (as per the Affidavit dated
26.07.2018) to oversee the implementation of the use of photography
and videography in the crime scene by the State / Union Territory
Government and other Central Agencies, to suggest the possibility of
setting up a Central Server for implementation of videography, and to
issue appropriate directions so as to ensure that use of videography
becomes a reality in a phased manner. Accordingly, directions were
issued to the Administrators of the Union Territory, State
Governments and other Central Agencies for effective
implementation of the use of photography and videography at the
crime scenes, and to furnish an Action Taken Report on the
implementation of the use of videography in the crime scene.
5. This Court, vide Order dated 16.07.2020, issued notice in the instant
Special Leave Petition to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the question
of audio-video recordings of Section 161 CrPC statements as is
provided by Section 161 (3) proviso, as well as the larger question as
to installation of CCTV cameras in police stations generally. While
issuing notice this Court also took note of the directions in Shafhi
6. This Court, vide Order dated 16.09.2020, impleaded all the States
and Union Territories to find out the exact position of CCTV cameras
qua each Police Station as well as the constitution of Oversight
Committees in accordance with the Order dated 03.04.2018 of this
Court in Shafhi Mohammad (supra).
7. Pursuant to the said directions of this Court, Compliance Affidavits
and Action Taken Reports were filed by 14 States (till 24.11.2020),
namely, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Nagaland,
Karnataka, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Mizoram, Madhya
Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur; and 2 Union Territories, namely,
Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry.
8. The majority of the Compliance Affidavits and Action Taken Reports
fail to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras qua each Police
Station. The affidavits are bereft of details with respect to the total
number of Police Stations functioning in the respective State and
Union Territory; total number of CCTV cameras installed in each and
every Police Station; the positioning of the CCTV cameras already
installed; working condition of the CCTV cameras; whether the CCTV
cameras have a recording facility, if yes, then for how many
days/hours, have not been disclosed. Further, the position qua
constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with the Order
dated 03.04.2018, and/or details with respect to the Oversight
Committees already constituted in the respective States and Union
Territory have also not been disclosed.
9. Compliance affidavits by all the States and Union Territories are to be
filed, as has been stated earlier, by either the Principal Secretary of
the State or the Secretary, Home Department of the States/Union
Territories. This is to be done by all the States and Union Territories,
including those who have filed so-called compliance affidavits till date,
stating the details mentioned in paragraph 8 of this Order. These
affidavits are to be filed within a period of six weeks from today.
10. So far as constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with
our Order dated 03.04.2018 is concerned, this should be done at the
State and District levels. The State Level Oversight Committee
(hereinafter referred to as the “SLOC”) must consist of:
(i) The Secretary/Additional Secretary, Home Department;
(ii) Secretary/Additional Secretary, Finance Department;
(iii) The Director General/Inspector General of Police; and
(iv) The Chairperson/member of the State Women’s Commission.
11. So far as the District Level Oversight Committee (hereinafter referred
to as “DLOC”) is concerned, this should comprise of:
(i) The Divisional Commissioner/ Commissioner of Divisions/
Regional Commissioner/ Revenue Commissioner Division of the
District (by whatever name called);
(ii) The District Magistrate of the District;
(iii) A Superintendent of Police of that District; and
(iv) A mayor of a municipality within the District/ a Head of the Zilla
Panchayat in rural areas.
12. It shall be the duty of the SLOC to see that the directions passed by
this Court are carried out. Amongst others, the duties shall consist of:
a) Purchase, distribution and installation of CCTVs and its equipment;
b) Obtaining the budgetary allocation for the same;
c) Continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and
d) Carrying out inspections and addressing the grievances received
from the DLOC; and
e) To call for monthly reports from the DLOC and immediately address
any concerns like faulty equipment.
Likewise, the DLOC shall have the following obligations:
a) Supervision, maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its
b) Continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and
c) To interact with the Station House Officer (hereinafter referred to
as the “SHO”) as to the functioning and maintenance of CCTVs and
its equipment; and
d) To send monthly reports to the SLOC about the functioning of
CCTVs and allied equipment.
e) To review footage stored from CCTVs in the various Police Stations
to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred but
are not reported.
13. It is obvious that none of this can be done without allocation of
adequate funds for the same, which must be done by the
States’/Union Territories’ Finance Departments at the very earliest.
14. The duty and responsibility for the working, maintenance and
recording of CCTVs shall be that of the SHO of the police station
concerned. It shall be the duty and obligation of the SHO to
immediately report to the DLOC any fault with the equipment or
malfunctioning of CCTVs. If the CCTVs are not functioning in a
particular police station, the concerned SHO shall inform the DLOC
of the arrest / interrogations carried out in that police station during
the said period and forward the said record to the DLOC. If the
concerned SHO has reported malfunctioning or non-functioning of
CCTVs of a particular Police Station, the DLOC shall immediately
request the SLOC for repair and purchase of the equipment, which
shall be done immediately.
15. The Director General/Inspector General of Police of each State and
Union Territory should issue directions to the person in charge of a
Police Station to entrust the SHO of the concerned Police Station with
the responsibility of assessing the working condition of the CCTV
cameras installed in the police station and also to take corrective
action to restore the functioning of all non-functional CCTV cameras.
The SHO should also be made responsible for CCTV data
maintenance, backup of data, fault rectification etc.
16. The State and Union Territory Governments should ensure that CCTV
cameras are installed in each and every Police Station functioning in
the respective State and/or Union Territory. Further, in order to ensure
that no part of a Police Station is left uncovered, it is imperative to
ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at all entry and exit points;
main gate of the police station; all lock-ups; all corridors; lobby/the
reception area; all verandas/outhouses, Inspector’s room; Sub-
Inspector’s room; areas outside the lock-up room; station hall; in front
of the police station compound; outside (not inside)
washrooms/toilets; Duty Officer’s room; back part of the police station
17. CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night
vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage.
In areas in which there is either no electricity and/or internet, it shall
be the duty of the States/Union Territories to provide the same as
expeditiously as possible using any mode of providing electricity,
including solar/wind power. The internet systems that are provided
must also be systems which provide clear image resolutions and
audio. Most important of all is the storage of CCTV camera footage
which can be done in digital video recorders and/or network video
recorders. CCTV cameras must then be installed with such recording
systems so that the data that is stored thereon shall be preserved for
a period of 18 months. If the recording equipment, available in the
market today, does not have the capacity to keep the recording for 18
months but for a lesser period of time, it shall be mandatory for all
States, Union Territories and the Central Government to purchase
one which allows storage for the maximum period possible, and, in
any case, not below 1 year. It is also made clear that this will be
reviewed by all the States so as to purchase equipment which is able
to store the data for 18 months as soon as it is commercially available
in the market. The affidavit of compliance to be filed by all States and
Union Territories and Central Government shall clearly indicate that
the best equipment available as of date has been purchased.
18. Whenever there is information of force being used at police stations
resulting in serious injury and/or custodial deaths, it is necessary that
persons be free to complain for a redressal of the same. Such
complaints may not only be made to the State Human Rights
Commission, which is then to utilise its powers, more particularly
under Sections 17 and 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act,
1993, for redressal of such complaints, but also to Human Rights
Courts, which must then be set up in each District of every
State/Union Territory under Section 30 of the aforesaid Act. The
Commission/Court can then immediately summon CCTV camera
footage in relation to the incident for its safe keeping, which may then
be made available to an investigation agency in order to further
process the complaint made to it.
19. The Union of India is also to file an affidavit in which it will update this
Court on the constitution and workings of the Central Oversight Body,
giving full particulars thereof. In addition, the Union of India is also
directed to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the
(i) Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
(ii) National Investigation Agency (NIA)
(iii) Enforcement Directorate (ED)
(iv) Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)
(v) Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
(vi) Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO)
(vii) 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.
The COB shall perform the same function as the SLOC for the offices
of investigative/enforcement agencies mentioned above both in Delhi
and outside Delhi wherever they be located.
20. The SLOC and the COB (where applicable) 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.
21. 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.
22. We record our gratitude to Shri Siddhartha Dave, learned Amicus
Curiae, for rendering his services to this Court.
23. The Supreme Court registry to send a copy of this Order to all
Chief/Principal Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories,
both by physical as well as electronic means, today itself.
24. List on 27.01.2021.
(R. F. Nariman)
December 02, 2020.