The Supreme Court on Wednesday, December 2, ordered all states and Union Territories to ensure that CCTV cameras with night vision and audio recording are installed in every police station of the country.
A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman directed the central government to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in offices of central agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Investigation Agency, the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Enforcement Directorate.
"All the cameras installed should be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage," the court said. The top court also said that the video and audio recordings have to be retained for 18 months for evidence.
"The affidavit of compliance to be led by all states and Union Territories and [the] central government shall clearly indicate that the best equipment available as of date has been purchased," the SC bench ordered.
"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, and outside washrooms, among other places," the apex court ruled.
The Supreme Court also said that it would be the state government's responsibility to provide police stations with electricity and/or internet "as expeditiously as possible".
"The internet systems that are provided must also be those which provide clear image resolutions and audio," the court's judgment read.
Besides, any central agency that interrogates and has the power of arrest "in the same manner as it would in a police station", must have recording facilities as well, the court noted.
The Human Rights Commission and courts can demand CCTV footage from stations while dealing with complaints related to custodial torture and deaths.
The court added that a committee must be constituted at the state and at the district level to oversee the installation of the cameras.