Custodial Torture & CCTV Cameras in Police Stations

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Through centuries, the human rights of people have been violated by instances war, genocide, and numerous other events. Thus the most important function entrusted to the state was protection of human rights. Nelson Mandela rightly said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” The ambit of human rights is very wide and includes a plethora of rights. Our Constitution adopted many of such human rights and enshrined them in itself.
Despite various remarkable judgments, like that of DK Basu and Nilabeti Behara, custodial torture continued with impunity in police lockups. There are innumerable instances to be quoted.

Then the Apex Court in case titled PARAMVIR SINGH SAINI VERSUS BALJIT SINGH & OTHERS ordered installation of CCTVs in every police Station in order to protect the human rights of people who are kept in Police Station or visit the same, and laid down constitution of bodies at Centre, State and District level, namely Central Oversight Body, State Level Oversight Committee ( SLOC ) and District Level Oversight Committee (DLOC). It is the duty of these bodies to install CCTV cameras in every police station, do the required maintenance and review the recordings monthly to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred but are not reported. A monthly report is to be sent to the SLOC by DLOC if any such violation has occurred. These mandatory instructions of the Apex Court are not being properly followed by the state of Himachal Pradesh. These committees only exist in papers and hardly do the functions assigned to them.

Then one of the instances came to notice of People for Responsible Governance (PeRGO) in which one lawyer was beaten inside the police lock up at Shimla. His efforts to seek a copy of CCTV footage failed. A series of applications filed under RTI Act revealed that CCTV cameras had not been installed at all places, as directed by Supreme Court. This incident infringed Petitioner the Right to Life of Lawyer concerned and it also shows that authorities are defeating the mandate of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgement.

Accordingly PeRGo filed a petition in the High Court for installation of CCTV cameras at all required places inside and outside all the police stations. More importantly, the DLOC and SLOC are also required to monitor the recordings of cameras and report the abuse of human rights violations. So the implementation of these provisions will atleast desist the errant police personnel from torturing people inside the police lockups.

The circumstances of other police stations in the state are similar. The orders of the apex court in Paramvir Singh Saini case are not being complied with. According to the judgement, “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; all corridors; lobby/the reception area; all verandas/outhouses, Inspector’s room; Sub Inspector’s room; areas outside the lock-up room; station hall; in front of the police station compound; outside (not inside) washrooms/toilets; Duty Officer’s room; back part of the police station etc.”
The incompetency of the state and SLOC in implementing these guidelines is shocking. Instead of doing all it could to protect the human rights of the citizens, the state has become the harasser itself. PeRGO has taken up upon itself to ensure that every police station in the state of Himachal Pradesh has the required number of CCTV cameras installed and the SLOC as well as DLOC perform their functions properly and with due diligence.

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