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The use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras has become an increasingly common tool in law enforcement and security around the world, where Kashmir is no exception, with CCTV cameras being installed in public areas, offices, it is high time that all private facilities including homes should also install CCTV cameras in order to curb crime in the Division. 

From 2009 the CCTV surveillance became an increasingly popular means of monitoring public and private spaces in India. The use of CCTV cameras is widespread in a variety of settings, including residential areas, offices, banks, hospitals, and public transportation systems. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has also installed CCTV cameras throughout the city, offices and public places to enhance public safety and security. In fact the State Administration also issued order for installation of CCTV cameras in all Police Stations and public officer, not only a measure of security but also accountability. In fact in another Order the District Magistrates of various district in Kashmir division in order to deter criminals, anti-social and anti-national elements from committing crimes, directed the installation of CCTV outside establishments, and such installation would work as a force multiplier, which would inspire further confidence in general public/customers visiting these establishments. The District Magistrates exercised their Power under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 directing Shop owners and market associations to install CCTV cameras compulsorily.

Thought the directions for installation of CCTV in markets etc. did raise the concerns raised about privacy violations and the potential misuse of footage, Hence in order to restrict the misuse of such footages, the the Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines for their installation and use. Some key features of the guidelines are that the footage from CCTV cameras should be stored securely and should not be shared with unauthorized persons, also that the CCTV should not be installed only in public places and should not be used to invade the privacy of individuals.

Case studies of CCTV footage used in criminal investigations

CCTV footage has become an indispensable tool in criminal investigations in recent years, providing crucial evidence in many high-profile cases. In India, there have been several instances where CCTV footage has led to successful prosecution and conviction of criminals. 

1. Nirbhaya Case (2012): In this infamous gang rape case in New Delhi, CCTV footage from a hotel helped investigators identify and apprehend the six perpetrators.

2. Gauri Lankesh Murder Case (2017): The murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh was captured on her home’s CCTV system. The footage facilitated law enforcement agencies in identifying suspects involved in her assassination.

3. Kathua Rape Case (2018): In this brutal rape case involving an eight-year-old girl from Jammu and Kashmir, investigators were able to assemble multiple pieces of evidence, including CCTV footage of the temple’s vicinity where the crime was committed.

However, it is important to note that the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, regulates the use of CCTV footage in criminal investigations and it’s not merely the installation of cameras but also the handling of the footage for the purposes of reading a Evidence, which also need to be learned and administration must introduce SOPs for the same 

Supreme Court: Paramvir Singh Saini Versus Baljit Singh & Ors. vide its reportable judgement dated 02.12.2020 gave direction for installation of CCTV cameras in all Police Station and office of all other Investigation agencies , which possesses the power of arrest. As per the directions, CCTV cameras are to be installed, inter alia, at all entry and exit points including the main gate of the police station, in front of the police station compound as well as the back portion of the police station, in the lobbies or reception areas, corridors, verandas or outhouses, station halls, and rooms belonging to the inspectors, sub-inspectors, and duty officers, inside and outside lock-up rooms, and outside washrooms. The surveillance systems must be equipped with night vision and should be able to transmit both video and audio footage. Victims of custodial torture, the court had asserted, would have the right to seek the CCTV footage of interrogation by police and other federal agencies. 

The direction by the Hon’ble Supreme Court reflects the confidence of the highest judiciary in the technology and how the same can be a game changer for security as well as accountability.  

Delhi Model 

As per a news report, Delhi was at the top with 1,826 CCTV cameras per square mile in the world. The story behind such numbers is that the NCT of Delhi, through Public Works Department, upon an Application by any Individual, market, association etc. installs the CCTV camera on cost of the State, rather than shifting the onus of installation on the Individuals. Though such applications are subject to the approval of competent authority and location feasibility etc.

Preservation of CCTV footage

In a number of cases the Complainant would entirely leave the matter in hands of the Investigation Agencies, who might due to limited resources and overburden of cases, miss on an essential factor i.e preservation of the CCTV footage. The average life of CCTV footage to replay is around 3-12 Months and upon expiry of such period if the CCTV footage is not secured or preserved the same is lost forever, without any chances of recovery, which not only weakens the case for the prosecution but also sabotages an important link in the chain of events. The Complainants can very well exercise their right under 156(3) Cr.P.C to seek specific directions for preservation of CCTV footage  

The role of CCTV footage in workplace and property monitoring 

CCTV footage plays a crucial role in workplace safety and security. There are several benefits of installing CCTV cameras in the workplace. Firstly, they act as a deterrent to potential criminals, reducing the likelihood of theft, vandalism, or even more severe crimes. Secondly, they can help in identifying perpetrators if a crime does occur, making it easier for law enforcement officials to apprehend them. 

Apart from preventing crime, CCTV cameras can also be used to monitor employee behaviour to ensure compliance with company rules and regulations. For instance, if an employee is caught stealing from the company, the CCTV footage can be used as evidence during disciplinary proceedings. Moreover, CCTV footage can be used to identify safety hazards in the workplace, enabling employers to take corrective actions to prevent accidents. For example, if an employee slips and falls at a particular location, the CCTV footage can be reviewed to identify the cause of the accident, such as a wet floor or an obstruction. This information can then be used to take corrective measures such as putting up warning signs, cleaning up spills immediately, or removing obstructions. 

Overall, the presence of CCTV cameras in the workplace can improve employee safety, reduce the likelihood of criminal activity, and provide valuable evidence in case a crime does occur. Employers should ensure that their CCTV systems comply with all applicable laws and regulations to avoid any legal issues.

Conclusion and the future of CCTV surveillance in India.

In conclusion, the use of CCTV cameras has become an important tool in to ensure public safety and security. The cases discussed in this article demonstrate the value of CCTV footage in providing evidence and solving criminal cases. However, there are also concerns regarding the misuse of CCTV footage, invasion of privacy, and data protection. As technology continues to advance, the future of CCTV surveillance in India will likely involve the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technology. This could lead to more efficient and accurate identification of suspects, but it also raises questions about privacy and civil liberties.

It is important that the use of CCTV cameras is regulated and monitored by the government to prevent abuse and ensure that citizens’ rights are protected. Businesses and individuals should also take responsibility for the use of CCTV cameras on their premises, ensuring that they are used ethically and in compliance with the law.

Overall, the use of CCTV cameras has both benefits and drawbacks, and it is important to strike a balance between public safety and individual privacy. With careful implementation and regulation, CCTV surveillance can continue to play an important role in maintaining law and order in India.