SC nod to CCTV in courts, says nothing private

22 November, New Delhi

 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said there is no need for privacy in courtrooms, favouring installation of CCTV cameras and audio recording of its proceedings, as it will be in larger public interest and security.

“What is the need for privacy in the court? There is nothing private happening here. We don’t need privacy here,” said the Bench comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

“Judges don’t need privacy in court proceedings. We all are sitting in front of you.”

The court also sought report from the central government on the compliance of its August 14 order for laying down technical specifications for installing the cameras.

Stressing that this would be beneficial for all, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinki Anand said the Ministry of Law and Justice has to sanction the proposal for the financial outlay and the same would happen soon.

“Don’t delay it. This step is in larger public interest, discipline and security,” the court said, asking the ASG to submit the report by Thursday.

It posted the matter for hearing on Thursday.

The top court had initially directed to install CCTV cameras in two districts in every state and Union Territory, but by its August 14 order, it said: “With the experience now gained, 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.”

The court, by its March 28 order, had said that the RTI provisions would not apply to the camera recordings and the footage would not be given for “any purpose other than the purpose for which the high court considers it appropriate”.

By its August 14 order, the court had directed the Ministry of Information and Technology in consultation with E-Committee of the top court to “lay down technical specifications and other modalities, including price range and sources of supply for installation of CCTV cameras in courts”.

It said that the entire exercise could be completed within one month and the information be conveyed 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,” the court had said.

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