Big brother in district courts: SC orders installation of CCTV cameras

A view of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
Shedding its reluctance, the Supreme Court has ordered installation of CCTV cameras in district courts but without audio.

A bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit directed 24 high courts across the country to make sure district and sessions courts in a minimum of two districts in every state and union territories have CCTV cameras installed inside courtrooms and also in the court precincts within three months, according to a report in the Indian Express.

The order came after several rounds of discussion between the Central government and the judiciary. Since August 2013, Union Law Ministers have written to the then Chief Justice of India to consider it in the interest of transparency and better case management.

According to the report, the Bench entrusted the high court concerned with overseeing installation of cameras and their working while District and Sessions Judges, who is the administrative head of courts in a particular district, have been asked to monitor the courtroom proceedings in his or her chambers.

The Bench added that only such small states and union territories where the high court felt that installation of CCTV cameras was not possible at the moment would be exempted from its order.

However, the footage from these videos or feeds will not be open for public access under the Right to Information Act. “We make it clear that the footage of the CCTV cameras will not be available under the RTI and will not be supplied to anyone without the permission of the concerned High Courts,” the Supreme Court directed.

The order came on a petition filed by Pradyuman Bisht for audio-video recording of trial court proceedings to ensure fair trial and transparency.

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