An argument by the police that the CCTV system installed in the police station was not working cannot be accepted since it would defeat the very purpose for which the same was established, the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad Bench recently said.
A Bench of TV Nalavade and MG Sewlikar also took exception because such submission is being made by the police in many cases relating to custodial torture and stated it was imperative to oversee the working of the CCTV system and to maintain records about the same in a register.
“CCTV system controls activities like atrocities against persons who are brought to the police station. It is surprising that in many cases, submission is made that the CCTV system was not working on that particular day. This cannot be allowed to happen as the purpose behind installing the CCTV system itself is defeated when such submissions are accepted,” the Court said in its order.
The Court heard a plea alleging custodial harassment by the police. The petitioner, WM Shaikh, had submitted that the police station was not providing a copy of the CCTV footage despite his application for the same.
In response, the Additional Public Prosecutor produced a communication from the Assistant Police Inspector, Umarga Sub-Division of Police, stating that CCTV was not working on a relevant day.
Holding that this was not the first time they were informed that the CCTV system was not working, the Court observed that an officer should be appointed to oversee the system’s working and maintain a register about the same after inspecting the CCTV records every day.
Since no such record or register was produced in the instant case, it created suspicion against the police station in question, the Bench observed.
Therefore, it ordered the District Superintendent of Police, Osmanabad, to personally look into the matter and hold an inquiry into the matter and submit a report to the Court.
“This Court is hereby directing the District Supdt. Of Police, Osmanabad, to inquire into the present matter and into the procedure adopted about working of the CCTV system and maintain the record of the CCTV system in the police station. The report needs to be submitted before 18th December 2020,” the order said.
The case will be heard next on December 18.
The Supreme Court had, on December 2, pronounced a landmark verdict on the installation of CCTVs with night vision cameras in each and every police station across the country.
The top court had also passed a slew of directions in that judgment to ensure that the same is implemented efficiently.