Installing closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in police stations across the state could help reduce the number of custodial deaths and incidents of torture in police custody substantially, the Bombay high court (HC) said on Wednesday.
The court was hearing a petition filed by BPT Colony resident Leonard Valdaris, seeking CBI investigation into the suspicious death of his 25-year-old son, Agnelo, who had been picked up, along with three others, by the Wadala Government Railway Police (GRP) in a chain-snatching case. Agnelo allegedly died because of excessive torture while in police custody, after which an FIR was registered against seven personnel from the Wadala GRP. The HC subsequently transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Acting on the petition, the bench had, on August 13, directed the state government to install CCTV cameras to cover every corridor and room at every police station across Maharashtra.
“The number [of custodial deaths and cases of torture] will come down by at least 60%, if CCTV cameras are installed at every police station,” the division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice PD Kode said. “The moment they realise somebody is watching them, the police personnel will simply stop torturing arrested persons, but in the absence of such a measure, there is no control over them.”
Assistant public prosecutor Mankunwar Deshmukh, however, said the installation work has not yet started at police stations, but the work at jails has begun.
Deshmukh could not respond to the court’s query on whether the home department had done a survey to check how many CCTV cameras would be required and if any tender notice had been issued, after the August 13 directive. The matter has been posted for hearing next week.