Video Recording of Court Proceedings in India – Proposals and Guidelines

Do Courts and Judiciary have ‘privacy right’ over the Court proceedings ? Whether the Tribunals other than Courts may also accept the proposal to install CCTV cameras? Whether there is need of transparency in Police Stations and Prisons as well ?

There are different perceptions about video recording of the Court proceedings. – Government of India, lower Courts and the Apex Court have differed in their opinions. From 2015 to 2017, a change has taken place with regard to it.  In 2015, the drive and movement to have CCTV in Courts across India started-

  • One view is that installing such cameras in all courts was in larger public interest and would result in discipline and security . CCTV cameras in criminal courts may act as a measure to ensure fair trials.
  • On 5 January, 2015 3-judge bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said:”You want to put CCTV in the court? Right now what ever we discuss in the innermost chamber is out there in the public. What we discuss among judges in the Collegium meetings are also out in public. There is no need for CCTV.”

Contention of Government of India

The government has “already taken steps” and the financial outlay of the project is under preparation.

Directions given by Apex Court

The Apex Court has in number of circumsatnces accepted the need for videography as –

In Pradyuman Bisht vs Union of India, on 28 March, 2017, the Hon’ble Court directed that –

  • At least in two districts in every State/Union Territory (with the exception of small States/Union Territories where it may be considered to be difficult to do so by the concerned High Courts) CCTV cameras (without audio recording) may be installed inside the courts and at such important locations of the court complexes as may be considered appropriate.
  • Monitor thereof may be in the Chamber of the concerned District and Session Judge.
  • Location of the District Courts and any other issues concerning the subject may be decided by the respective High Courts.
  • The footage of the CCTV camera will not be available under the R.T.I. and will not be supplied to anyone without permission of the concerned High Court.
  • Installation may be completed within three months from today.
  • The report of such experiment be submitted within one month of such installation by the Registrar Generals of the respective High Courts to the Secretary General of this Court who may have it tabulated and placed before the Court.

In Pradyuman Bisht vs Union of India, on 14 August 2017 , the Court in its order observed –

The CCTV cameras have already been installed in the jurisdiction of the eight High Courts while in the remaining four High Courts installation process is in progress.

It further directed that –

  • The learned Additional Solicitor General to take up the aspect for installation of CCTV cameras in Tribunals with the concerned authorities so that an appropriate direction is issued by the concerned authority for installation of CCTV cameras in Tribunals in same manner as in Courts and an affidavit filed in this Court.
  •  The Union of India, Ministry of Information and Technology in consultation with E-Committee of this Court to lay down technical specifications and other modelities, including price range and sources of supply for installation of CCTV cameras in Courts. This may be done within a period of one month from today and such information may be provided to all the High Courts. The duration for which audio and video recordings may be retained may normally be three months, unless otherwise directed by any High Court.
  • It is desirable that CCTV cameras are installed in all subordinate courts in such phased manner as may be considered appropriate by the High Courts. Schedule for the purpose may be laid down within one month and information furnished to this Court within two months. Audio recording may also be done. Similar directions may be issued by the Government for Tribunals.

CCTV Cameras strategic positions to prevent Eve Teasing 

In Deputy Inspector General of Police & Anr. Vs. S. Samuthiram 2013 (1) SCC 598 , the Supreme Court issued a number of guidelines to deal with eve teasing –

State Government and Union Territories were directed to install CCTV in strategic positions which itself would be a deterrent and if detected, the offender could be caught.

CCTV Cameras in Police Stations

In Dilip K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors. , 2015 (8) SCC 744 , The Hon’ble Apex Court had directed as follows –

  • The State Governments shall take steps to install CCTV cameras in all the prisons in their respective States, within a period of one year from today but not later than two years.
  •  The State Governments shall also consider installation of CCTV cameras in police stations in a phased manner depending upon the incidents of human rights violation reported in such stations.

Image from here

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Bhumika Sharma

She is currently a Research Scholar, (PhD) at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. She finds peace in writing and researching on a variety of social issues. She believes in the power of education and awareness to deal with various problems.

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