Chandigarh In what could go a long way in curbing human rights violations, the Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered that CCTV cameras have to be installed in all interrogation centres in police stations in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

“…it is not an excuse for us, in India, to take a plea that many other countries are far more advanced than us and, therefore, there can be no comparison with the methods adopted there, in interrogating the accused here. We are the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world and therefore any such plea taken would only seem to be taken as an excuse to not actually adopt contemporary methods of investigation, including interrogation, rather than taking short-cuts by using third degrees methods etc,” the bench of justice Amol Rattan Singh said, issuing directions.

The order came on the plea of gangster Kaushal Chaudhary who had alleged that human rights violations are being committed against him in jail. His name had cropped up in the day-light gruesome murder of Youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera in Mohali.

The court also ordered that medical record of every accused and other provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), with regard to rights of an arrested and the one to be taken into custody are met and same be made part of challans to be presented in a particular case. If the same is not complied with, it would be considered as contempt of court, it said.

“No court is oblivious to the fact that the police faces a very uphill task in dealing with criminals, especially hardened criminals, and the work done by the police force and any investigating agency is to be highly appreciated, in trying to apprehend criminals and actually apprehending them and bringing them to justice; yet, as per the constitutional scheme and the statutory provisions framed in India, not even the worst criminal can be denied a fair procedure in terms of the (CrPC),” the court said, adding that violation of such procedure, especially leading to the violation of human rights even in the case of the worst criminal, cannot be ignored by any court.

WHAT STATES HAVE SAID

On the previous hearing, the court had asked the DGPs, whether Supreme Court (SC) directions with regard to CCTV coverage at police stations and jails have been complied with.

Haryana had submitted that there is no such provision in the CrPC and Punjab DGP’s response was “conspicuously silent” on that aspect. However, they had submitted that entry and exit points in police stations are under CCTV coverage. The court, however, referred to the SC order passed in Paramvir Singh Saini vs Baljit Singh, and said that any order of the apex court is enforceable throughout the country and is binding on all courts.

The court observed that the SC directions also included that cameras be installed at not just entry and exit points and main gates of police stations, but also in all lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception areas, verandas, out houses, rooms of officials, outside the lock-up rooms, station hall and in front of the police station compound, as also outside washrooms and toilets, the obvious implication is that no part of the police stations would be left uncovered by CCTV surveillance.

Now, court has directed DGPs of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to file affidavits as to whether the directions of the SC have been complied with or not. It reiterated that the HC is duty-bound to ensure enforcement of SC orders and if not implemented, it would amount to contempt of court.


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