Madhya Pradesh High Court: Atul Sreedharan, J., took up a petition which was filed aggrieved by the action of the respondents, who in an arbitrary and unlawful manner made the petitioner an accused in a criminal case by falsely implicating him.
Petitioner states that he had gone to Bhopal along with his friends from where he was unlawfully picked up by the Police and taken to PS Piplani and kept there for two days. In the petition, the petitioner had specifically taken the name of the Head Constable, Constables and other police personnel. When this fact came to the knowledge of the family members of the petitioner, they visited the police station, where on enquiry they were informed by the police that they will leave the petitioner after sometime. The applicant had moved an application before the Special Judge NDPS on 01-03-2021 that the CCTV footage from 22-02-2021 till 24-02-2021 of Police Station Piplani be secured and brought before the Court, which would clearly reveal that the petitioner was in the unlawful custody of respondent 5 during that period.
However, the police report that was given to the Court which disclosed the reason why the CCTV footage cannot be given was on account of the non-functioning of the CCTV cameras in the Thana. Prosecutor stated that the footage cannot be given because it would reveal the identity of the source informant who was present in the police station, which logically means that the CCTV cameras were functioning and there was indeed footage. The police on the other hand said that the cameras itself had turned dysfunctional from 17-02-2021.
The Court felt that in order to cover up instances of unlawful detention by the police, the police comes up with the argument that the CCTV cameras are disfunctional. Such a stand taken by the police does not augur well for the ordinary citizens of the State. It creates an environment of giving an opportunity to the Police to act with impunity in complete disregard to human rights and personal liberty and enables them to detain anyone in the police station and conveniently give an explanation that the CCTV cameras were dysfunctional during the period which the citizen says that he was unlawfully detained in the police station.
The case was listed to be heard on 14-06-2021 and the Court directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG- Bhopal (Urban), Police Headquarters, Bhopal and the Superintendent of Police South Bhopal to remain present with the explanation as to why the cameras were disfunctional from 17.2.2021, whether the authorities who had to be informed about the disfunctionality of the cameras, were duly so informed by the SHO of PS Piplani, Bhopal and if they were so informed, what were the steps taken forthwith by those officials to have the cameras rectified in the shortest possible time.
The Superintendent of Police stated that the cameras installed at PS Piplani were functional till 22-02-2021. He also stated that after the expiry of the AMC a fresh AMC was yet to be issued and there were cameras which were disfunctional in 14 other Thanas under his jurisdiction besides PS Piplani. He has stated that the AMC had to be issued from the Telecommunications Department, which was responsible for making the budgetary allocations. Counsel for the petitioner had placed before this Court the order passed by the Supreme Court on 02-12-2020 in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2021) 1 SCC 184, where a three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court had passed interim directions. In the said order, the Supreme Court had directed that the Oversight Committees at the State and District levels were to be constituted in accordance with the order passed by the Supreme Court on 03-04-2018.
In paragraph 12, the Supreme Court directed that it shall be the duty of State Level Oversight Committee to ensure that the directions passed by the Supreme Court are enforced and amongst its duties were purchase, distribution and installation of CCTVs and its equipment, obtaining the budgetary allocation for the same, continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipments, carrying out inspections and addressing the grievances received from the District Level Oversight Committee and call for monthly reports of the District Level Oversight Committee and immediately address any concerns like faulty equipment. The Supreme Court also directed that the District Level Oversight Committee shall have the obligation of supervision, maintenance and upkeep of CCTV and its equipment, continuous monitoring and of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipments, to interact with the Station House Officer as to functioning and maintenance of the CCTVs and its equipment, send monthly reports to the State Level Oversight Committee about the functioning of the CCTVs and allied equipment and review footage stored from CCTVs in the various Police Stations to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred, but are not reported.
The Court directed that the Superintendent of Police, Bhopal (South), shall file an affidavit with regard to the failure of CCTV cameras at Police Station Piplani. The respondent 5-the Station House Officer of Police Station Piplani, Bhopal shall also file a separate affidavit with regard to the failure of the CCTV cameras in his Police Station, the date on which he came to know and the action taken by him. Respondent 2 Director General of Police shall also file an affidavit with regard to the extent of compliance of the order passed by the Supreme Court in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2021) 1 SCC 184.
Matter further to be heard on 28-06-02021.[Ritwik Kaushal v. State of M.P., WP-8145 of 2021,dated- 11-06-2021, decided on 14-06-2021]
Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Counsel for the petitioner: Mr Anurag Gohil
Govt. Advocate for the respondent/State: Mr Ritwik Parashar