The Delhi High Court today asked the city government to explain the reasons and circumstances behind its proposal to install over 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras inside classrooms in state-run schools.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said while there may be a security aspect behind the proposal, such a move “might stifle initiative” of the children in the classroom.
Observing that children have a right to privacy, the court wondered as to how much of it would apply to a classroom.
It also said in some cases monitoring and scrutinising of the teaching imparted may be required.
The court asked the Delhi government to file a status report explaining the reasons and circumstances behind the decision to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in classrooms as well as the exercises, if any, undertaken for it.
The Delhi government, represented by Additional Standing Counsel Sanjoy Ghosh, was directed to spell out its stand before August 21, the next date of hearing.
Ghosh had argued that schools in most of the first-world countries have cameras inside classrooms and school campus for safety reasons.
He also referred to a recent ‘selfie with teachers’ initiative in the government schools in some districts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to curb absenteeism by teachers.
On the other hand, advocate Jai Dehadrai, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that it was not healthy to have cameras inside classrooms where children, including girls, often discuss personal things amongst themselves.
He also said the constant scrutiny by cameras in a classroom would have a psychological impact on the children apart from raising concerns of voyeurism and stalking.
The petitioner, Daniel George, in his plea has contended that installing cameras without there being any regulatory mechanism on access to its footage could lead to incidents of stalking and molestation.
The petitioner, who claims to be involved in the field of education awareness, has sought that a feasibility test be held amongst the target population of students and teachers to understand the issues they face when it comes to surveillance.
The plea further states that even the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) proposes to install 4,348 CCTV cameras in 344 schools run by it.
It has sought quashing of the proposals of both the Delhi government and SDMC as well as framing of guidelines for effective regulation on access to the CCTV footage.