After years of reluctance, the Supreme Court of India has finally allowed having CCTV cameras inside the courtrooms in at least two districts of all states and union territories. The decision was taken by a bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit. However, the apex judiciary has given a green signal to only video recordings and the audio will still not be available. According to The Indian Express, 24 High Courts across India have been ordered to install the CCTV cameras within next three months.
This decision has been taken after several rounds of discussions and suggestions between the Central government and the top judiciary. “We direct 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,” said a statement from the top court.
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This historic step was taken on Friday after the Union Law Ministers had written as many as three times to the Chief Justices of India since 2013. “Monitor thereof may be in the chamber of the concerned District and Session Judge,” told the bench to The Indian Express bringing further clarity over the issue. It also stated that other decisions regarding the cameras will be taken the respective High Courts. Only the small states and union territories where the CCTV cameras cannot be installed have been exempted from this order.
Earlier the Supreme Court was reluctant in passing any such order. In its last communication with the government in August 2016, SC said that a wider consultation is required before taking the final decision on this matter. “We make it clear that the footage of the CCTV camera will not be available under the RTI (Right To Information Act) and will not be supplied to anyone without the permission of the concerned high court,” added the statement.
The installation will be done on trial basis and even though three months of time has given for the instalment of cameras, the report of this experiment will have to be submitted within one month of the installation by the Registrar Generals of the respective High Courts to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court. He will them collate and tabulate this information and place it before the bench on August 9 for evaluation.