Published on: 25 September 2023 at 00:30 IST
The Jharkhand High Court has issued a significant directive to the State government and the Director General of Police (DGP) to ensure that CCTV cameras installed in police stations retain data for a minimum period of 18 months.
Justice Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi’s directive stipulates: “The State of Jharkhand and the Director General of Police, Jharkhand are directed to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every police station. It shall also be ensured that no part of a Police Station is left uncovered, and cameras must be installed at all entry and exit points, the main gate of the police station, all lock-ups, all corridors, the lobby/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, the back part of the police station, etc.
This shall be complied with within three months from the date of receipt/production of a copy of this order. The State of Jharkhand and the Director General of Police, Jharkhand shall ensure that the equipment installed is capable of storing data for 18 months.”
Prior to issuing this directive, the court took note of a previous order dated July 11, 2023, which had instructed the Director General of Police, Jharkhand, to preserve CCTV footage from Bankmore Police Station for the period of May 31, 2023, to June 1, 2023, and produce it to the court in a sealed cover.
The court expressed bewilderment over the inability of the police to retrieve CCTV footage for just two specific dates, stating, “It is strange that how the CCTV footage of only two dates were not found by the police. Further, the question remains that in a place like Dhanbad in the State of Jharkhand, where the crime rate is very high, why such action is not taken by the Head of the Police Department as well as the Government of Jharkhand so that proper CCTV maintenance should be there.”
The Court also highlighted that despite a 2021 order from the Hon’ble Supreme Court directing all States and Union Territory Governments to take action regarding CCTV maintenance, the State of Jharkhand had not yet complied with this directive.
This directive was issued in connection with a petition seeking the quashing of criminal proceedings, including the First Information Report (FIR) registered for offenses under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471, and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.
These proceedings were pending in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dhanbad, and were related to a dispute concerning the purchase of flats, a loan, and allegations of dishonor of a cheque.