While the High Court order on the cameras had been given keeping the state’s abysmal track record on custodial deaths in mind, policemen say it will help them prove their innocence when false allegations are levelled against them
Acting on the orders of the High Court (HC), Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has issued a strict order to senior inspectors, asking for CCTV cameras to be installed in every room, lock-up and corridor of every police station in the city at the earliest. He has also asked for footage to be preserved for at least a year.
An officer said women often falsely accuse policemen of calling them to police stations at night. He said the CCTV cameras would help cops in such cases. Representation pic
However, while the HC order was given keeping in mind the alarming number of custodial deaths in Maharashtra, police officials say it will help “innocent” cops fend off false allegations from people.
The order was issued by the High Court in August last year after families of people including those of Agnello Valdaris, who had died in Wadala GRP custody, and Aakash Kharade, who had died in the lock-up of the Samta Nagar police station, in April 2014 had filed a petition.
The order had stated that rotating CCTV cameras should be installed in every corridor, lock-up and room of police stations so that every part of it is covered 24x7. The court had directed that the footage should be preserved for at least one year, and had added that the senior police inspector of every police station would be responsible for keeping the cameras operational.
On January 6, the High Court had asked the Maharashtra government to file a compliance report on its earlier order within four weeks. A senior police officer, requesting anonymity, said, “The CP has issued this order to ensure that the police personnel, who are falsely implicated in custodial deaths and have other allegations levelled against them, can come out clean with the help of the footage.”
Officials said that, many times, women accused of crimes level false allegations that they are called to the police station late in the night, which is against the guidelines of the Supreme Court, and these CCTV cameras would come to the rescue of the policemen in such cases.
Another officer said, “Even before the order was issued by the High Court last year, CCTV cameras had been installed in many police stations and were being monitored by senior police inspectors. They kept a watch on what was happening and spoke to, and corrected, officers who were doing something wrong.”
When mid-day contacted Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Dhananjay Kulkarni, the Mumbai Police spokesperson, he said, “The CP has issued this strict order due to the increasing number of allegations being levelled against cops.
In most cases, people level allegations against policemen and the latter plead innocence. These (the cameras) could act as a helping hand for innocents.”
When DCP Kulkarni was asked who would bear the expenses for installing and maintaining the cameras, he said, “Senior police inspectors are supposed to submit the bills, and they will be reimbursed by the government.”
Did you know?
According to National Crime Records Bureau data, Maharashtra has recorded the most number of custodial deaths in the country in 10 of the 13 years between 2001 and 2014