Dedicated cells be set up in HCs for viewing CCTV footage, says SC

The Supreme Court has said that dedicated cells should be constituted in high courts where footage of CCTV cameras installed in courts across the country could be viewed from time to time. A bench of Justices A K Goel and R F Nariman said that high courts might also consider the suggestions of senior advocate Sidharth Luthra.

Luthra, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, regarding the issue concerning identity of victims of sexual offences and protected witnesses, told the bench that privacy of such victims and witnesses has to be protected and the Centre should come out with norms in this regard. The Centre sought time from the court to come out with a report about the status of installation of CCTV cameras in various tribunals in the country. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing in the last week of July. The apex court had earlier cited the ghastly 26/11 Mumbai attack and the 2016 Patiala House Court violence in Delhi to count on the benefits of installations of CCTV cameras in courts and tribunals, and had observed that it wanted to bring discipline, security and oversight in the judicial proceedings.

It had referred to the CCTV grab of 26/11 Mumbai attack case convict Ajmal Kasab at Victoria Terminus railway station and said it had proved detrimental for him during the trial in the matter. It had also lauded the Centre for the “good work” done in installation of CCTV cameras in several tribunals, including the National Green Tribunal, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and National Company Law Tribunal. The apex court had earlier said that it would first see the response of pilot project of CCTV installations in trial courts and tribunals and would then look for the possibility in the high courts and the Supreme Court. The court is hearing a plea filed by a man seeking audio and video recordings of court proceedings in order to bring transparency.