New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central government and High Courts of the states to explore the possibility of installation of CCTV cameras in state tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies.
A division bench of Justice A.K. Goel and Justice U.U. Lalit said that as far as the central quasi judicial authorities are concerned, the Ministry of Law and Justice may consider installing CCTV cameras within four weeks.
“As far as state tribunal and state quasi judicial authorities, including the executive magistrate and revenue courts are concerned, we request the High Courts to consider this aspect on the administrative/judicial side,” the bench added.
The court also expressed satisfaction at the progress made by law ministry for installation of CCTV cameras in various tribunals saying it’s doing “great work”.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand apprised the court on the progress made by the Central government in this regard and submitted the status report on installation of CCTV cameras in tribunals, and informed that technical specifications etc. have been finalised.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who was assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae, pointed out that recording the proceedings may require certain safeguards, especially in cases of sexual assaults, protected witnesses in sensitive cases, family disputes, juvenile cases etc.
To this the bench said the last year order for installation of CCTV cameras in courts and tribunals across the country was not meant for recording the proceedings.
It said: “Our purpose is three-fold: discipline, security and oversight. Safety and security is most important. New technology is being utilised everywhere and we also thought it should be used to ensure safety, to see discipline is maintained and then corrective steps can be taken by the High Court concerned.”
“We have not issued orders for recording the court proceedings. We have passed orders for installation of CCTV cameras so that concerns regarding safety and administration of justice could be addressed,” the bench added.
The court also ordered that the specifications as well as the price range and sources of supply may be placed by the Ministry of Law and Justice on its website so that uniform standard approach can be adopted at all places.
“It has been pointed out by Additional Solicitor General that the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology, National Informatics Centre after detailed study has prepared draft of technical specifications… All the specifications as well as the price range and sources of supply may be placed by the Ministry of Law and Justice on its website so that uniform standard approach can be adopted at all places. This may also be cost-effective and obviate the need for a tender process to save time,” said the bench while posting the matter for April 4.
The court was hearing a plea which has sought audio and video recording of court proceedings in order to bring transparency.
Earlier, Central government had informed the court that various states have installed CCTV cameras in courtrooms and live audio and video recordings of judicial proceedings have started.
The top court had initially directed to install CCTV cameras in two districts in every state and Union Territory, but by its 14 August order of last year, it said, “With the experience now gained, it is desirable that CCTV cameras are installed in all subordinate courts in such a phased manner as may be considered appropriate by the high courts.”