SC orders to install CCTV cameras with night vision at CBI, NIA and ED offices

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New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Central Government to install night vision CCTV and recording equipment in the offices of investigative agencies, including the CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and National Investigation Agency (NIA), which have the power to make arrests and interrogations. Whenever there is information of force being used at police stations resulting in serious injury or custodial deaths, it is necessary that persons be free to complain for redressal.

The supreme court against this backdrop has directed to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies like the National Investigation Agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Narcotics Control Bureau etc. which have the power of arrest and interrogations.

A bench, headed by Justice R. F. Nariman and comprising Justices K. M. Joseph and Aniruddha Bose, said: “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 top court emphasized that CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage. Most important of all, it said, 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,” the court added.

In 2018, the apex court had ordered installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to check human rights abuses. The bench noted that till November 24, 14 state governments and two Union Territories filed compliance affidavits and action taken reports, but a majority of these reports failed to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras at each police station.

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