NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday expressed displeasure over the Centre for “dragging its feet” by seeking more time on the issue pertaining to installation of CCTV cameras in the offices of investigating agencies including CBI, ED and NIA.
A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman, which observed that this issue concerns the rights of citizens, said it is not accepting the excuses given in the letter filed by the Centre seeking adjournment in the matter.
“We are getting a distinct impression that you are dragging your feet,” the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy, told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who was representing the Centre.
The apex court had on December 2 last year directed the Centre to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies — the Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest.
During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing on Tuesday, Mehta told the bench that adjournment has been sought as the matter may have ramifications.
“This concerns the rights of citizens,” the bench said, adding, “We are not accepting the excuses”.
“We are not concerned about the ramifications,” the bench said.
The top court asked Mehta about the allocation of funds for installation of CCTVs in the offices of these investigating agencies.
Mehta sought some time from the bench to file an affidavit in the matter.
The apex court granted three week time to the Centre to file an affidavit on the issue, including on the aspect of allocation of funds and the timeline for installation of CCTV cameras.
The bench also examined the report placed before it by senior advocate Siddharth Dave, who is assisting it as an amicus curiae in the matter, on the timeline of different states to comply with the court’s direction.
In its last year order, the apex court had said that states and Union Territories (UTs) should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at each and every police station, at all entry and exit points, main gate, lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception as also areas outside the lock-up rooms so that no part is left uncovered.
The top court had earlier ordered installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to check human rights abuses.
It had said that it had impleaded all the states and UTs in the matter to find out the exact position of CCTV cameras in each police station as well as constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with the April 3, 2018 order.
The apex court, while dealing with a matter related to custodial torture, had in July last year taken note of a 2017 case in which it had ordered installation of CCTV cameras in all the police stations to check human rights abuses, videography of crime scene and setting up of a Central Oversight Committee and such a panel in every states and UT.
It had said that authorities would implement its order “both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible.”
The bench had said in its December last year order that affidavits be filed within six weeks by principal secretary or cabinet secretary or home secretary of each states and UTs giving a firm action plan with exact timeline for compliance with the order.