“The project of Thana specific installation of CCTV is under pipeline and as I said it is stalled due some procedural delays”
Even after the passage of more than two long years, Police Headquarters (PHQ) in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory is still ‘struggling with the issue of sanctioning and tendering’ of the project regarding installation of CCTV cameras in Police Stations.
According to the highly placed sources within the police department, the PHQ has responded to the orders of the Supreme Court regarding the status of installation of CCTVs in police stations by providing details of ‘otherwise’ installed cameras.
“The Supreme Court had sought an affidavit regarding the progress of installation of CCTVs in the Police Stations, but Jammu and Kashmir had provided details regarding already installed cameras,” said sources, adding that PHQ provided area specific detail of cameras, whereas the project initiated on the directions of Supreme Court were Thana specific.
Sources stated that the Supreme Court in 2018 had directed installation of CCTVs in all police stations and in this regard has recently issued orders to Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories to inform the progress on affidavits before November 24.
“The Registry (of Supreme Court) is directed to issue notice to the Chief Secretary of each State and Union Territory to respond on the following points: what exactly is the position with respect to CCTV cameras fitted in each and every Police Station in the State or Union Territory and what is the position qua constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with our order dated April 3, 2018,” said sources, quoting supreme court judges.
The Court, in its April 2018 order, had approved the “Centrally Driven Plan of Action” suggested by a Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs to strengthen the rule of law. This talked about audio-video recording of statements given by accused to police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and videography of crime scenes. Additionally, the Court directed, “With a view to check human rights abuse, CCTV cameras be installed in all Police Stations as well as in Prisons.” The order further required every state to have an independent oversight committee that would study the CCTV camera footage and periodically publish reports of its observations.
“There is no logical reason for not covering all police stations under CCTVs. There will be unmatched transparency and unquestionable veracity of the police version, because of the incontrovertible evidence,” security expert Vikram Singh said, adding that the earliest documented use of CCTV dates back to 1942 when the Germans used this technology to monitor the production and launching of V2 rockets.
In view of massive allegations of police brutality, use of third-degree torture and corrupt practices within the police station premises, this project would have far-reaching consequences.
“In 2019, Jammu and Kashmir Police floated tenders from manufacturers or their authorized dealers for the supply of installation, commissioning and maintenance of the CCTV surveillance system at Police Stations and Police Posts of J&K, but it remained confined to papers only,” said sources.
Talking to The Typewriter Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said that the process of installation of CCTV cameras is on.
“We have sporadically installed cameras in some areas, especially across the city, but specifically the project has not been launched due to issues of sanctioning and tendering,” said DGP, adding that he believes that the project is in pipeline and will be achieved soon.
“I hope to achieve this target soon. As of now we have covered the major cities, but most of the areas are uncovered,” said Dilbag Singh, adding that as of now they do not have ‘Thana’ specific coverage but area specific. “The project of Thana specific installation of CCTV cameras is under pipeline and as I said, it is stalled due some procedural delays,” DGP Dilbag Singh said.
He further added that they have responded to the orders issued by the Supreme Court regarding the progress of installation of CCTV cameras in Police Stations and Thanas.
Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department, J&K, Shaleen Kabra said that the PHQ is in the process of installing cameras.