SHRC Orders Govt to Install CCTV Cameras in Police Stations

Srinagar—To curb instance of harassment to general public and prevent “torture and custodial deaths”, the State Human Rights Commission on Tuesday directed the installation of close circuit (CCTV) cameras in all police stations across Jammu and Kashmir,

However, no time frame has been given even as the government through Chief Secretary has been directed to sanction the grant in favour of the J&K Director General of Police for installing the CCTVs cameras.

The SHRC order, issued by its only member Jung Bhadur Singh Jamwal, is also silent whether the footage from these videos or feeds will be open for public access under the Right to Information Act.

Disposing of a petition filed by one Deepak Kumar Sharma of Mandlik Bhawan Jammu, the SHRC also directed Commissioner Secretary of Home Department headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to process the case “with the latest cost of the installation of CCTV cameras.”

The DGP has also been directed to prepare the present expenditure and budget to be spent on installation of CCTV cameras in all police stations.

Depending on the availability of the budget, the SHRC said that the government can choose sensitive police stations, both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir, firstly as a first step of transparency.

“It is commonly known that tortures as well as the custodial death are happening in Jammu and Kashmir intermittently or on one occasion or the other,” the SHRC member observed.

“Though the Commission has no such records of how many custodial deaths have been occurred in last few years, it is also not deniable fact that such death do have occurred and instances of torture also have come up to fore,” the SHRC member said. Many a times, the SHRC said, the police personnel convert a criminal case into civil dispute.

“The installations of CCTV cameras will not only bring the transparency but will also assist all the police stations to be transparent which is the demand of the democracy these days and the security of the police will also be secured, the member said.

“The programme of modernizing policing in the state will make the functioning of the police stations on record and installation of CCTV cameras is an integral part thereof. Many a times it has been noticed that the citizens who approach the police stations with complaints or for other enquiry need not to worry about any kind of harassment once the new proposal of fixing close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras is complete,” the member said.

In what may be perceived as a small step towards changing the status quo and re-igniting the debate on whether the public should be given access to proceedings in a police station as a positive measure towards dispelling opacity, the SHRC ordered that CCTV cameras in each police station have to capture the footage of the entire proceeding in the police station.

“The same footage is an essential evidence for the harassment and human rights violation,” the SHRC said, adding, “Some time, it will be very helpful to the police to establish and reply to the false allegations levelled against honest and dedicated police personnel those who have to enforce the law in letter and spirit.”

All the proceedings in all police stations though are required to be video graphed, for the purpose the evidence, and “on this aspect, the fixing of CCTV cameras is also necessitated and essential also.”

“A person directly and firstly approaches the police for violation of his human rights and if such surveillance is enforced, the human rights violation surely and likely be decreased,” the SHRC underlined.

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