|CORAM:||Adarsh Kumar Goel J, Uday Umesh Lalit J|
|CATCH WORDS:||CCTV Cameras in ITAT|
|DATE:||August 14, 2017 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||August 26, 2017 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|CCTV cameras are culture of the day and promotes good governance. All Tribunals including the ITAT should have CCTVs with audio recording. The footage of the CCTV Camera will not be available under the RTI and will not be supplied to anyone without permission of the concerned High Court|
(i) It is pointed out that there is acknowledged utility of CCTV cameras in recording contemporary events which may be useful for any monitoring authority. By way of illustration, reference was made to orders of this Court directing CCTV cameras to be installed in all Police Stations and prisons in 2015 (8) SCC 744 Dilip K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors. Similarly to curtail the events of eve-teasing, same direction was given in 2013 (1) SCC 598 Deputy Inspector General of Police & Anr. Vs. S. Samuthiram.
(ii) Some of the High Courts have suggested that audio recording should also be permitted modifying the earlier direction of recording without audio. They have expressed an opinion that installation of CCTV cameras will advance the interest of Justice. Learned ASG and learned amicus curiae point out that as per Article 235 of the Constitution of India, the High Court is to exercise power of superintendence over the subordinate Courts. There are untoward instances which may take place in lower Courts and it may be useful if proceedings in Court are captured on the CCTV camera by audio as well as video. This can assist the High Courts in exercising the constitutional power under Article 235 of the Constitution of India.
(iii) We are satisfied, after considering the submissions and perusing the studies which have been brought to our notice that installation of CCTV Cameras will be in the interest of justice. Any apprehension to the contrary needs to be repelled. We have already incorporated safeguards of footage of recording not being given for any purpose other than the purpose for which the High Court considers it appropriate. We have also directed that the R.T.I provisions will not apply to CCTV camera recordings in our Order dated 28.03.2017.
(iv) We asked learned Additional Solicitor General as to why the Union of India has not so far installed CCTV cameras in Tribunals where open hearing takes place like Court such as ITAT, CESTAT etc. as the tribunals stand on the same footing as far as object of CCTV camera are concerned. He is unable to dispute the utility and requirement of doing so and we see no reason why this should not be done. Recordings will help the constitutional authorities and the High Courts exercising jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution over such Tribunals. We, therefore, direct that this aspect may now be taken up by learned Additional Solicitor General with the concerned authorities so that an appropriate direction is issued by the concerned authority for installation of CCTV cameras in Tribunals in same manner as in Courts and an affidavit filed in this Court.
(v) We find from the report that there is a variance about the cost of installation of CCTV cameras and no uniform technical specifications have been prescribed.
(vi) We direct the Union of India, Ministry of Information and Technology in consultation with E-Committee of this Court to lay down technical specifications and other modelities, including price range and sources of supply for installation of CCTV cameras in Courts. This may be done within a period of one month from today and such information may be provided to all the High Courts. The duration for which audio and video recordings may be retained may normally be three months, unless otherwise directed by any High Court.
(vii) Though our earlier direction was to install CCTV cameras in two districts in every State/Union Territory, with the experience now gained, it is desirable that CCTV cameras are installed in all subordinate courts in such phased manner as may be considered appropriate by the High Courts. Schedule for the purpose may be laid down within one month and information furnished to this Court within two months. Audio recording may also be done. Similar directions may be issued by the Government for Tribunals.