Are Mumbai police stations SC-compliant? Joint CP orders CCTV review

Updated: Nov 06, 2019, 07:32 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Faizan Khan, Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

Following this paper's expose about lack of cameras in police stations, DCPs asked to fix the issue within a week

Jt CP Vinoy Choubey
Jt CP Vinoy Choubey

Following Day 1 of mid-day's test drive to check for CCTV cameras inside police stations on Monday, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Vinoy Choubey has asked for a review from all zonal DCPs, within a week, on whether the SC guidelines were being followed.

"The Zonal DCPs have been told to check whether or not the installed CCTVs are surveying the entire premises at police stations," an IPS officer told mid-day.

The fiasco over CCTV cameras kicked off after the recent alleged custodial death of a medical representative Vijay Singh, 26, inside the lock-up of Wadala TT police station. During investigation in this case, the city crime branch learnt that Wadala TT police station was in contempt of the 2015 Supreme Court judgment as no CCTV camera was installed on its premises.

Prior to the SC judgment, the Bombay High Court had directed the state in 2014 to 'immediately install and maintain CCTV with rotating cameras in every corridor, room and lock-up of each police station so that every part of the police station is covered 24 hours of the day and the tapes of the CCTV shall be preserved for a minimum period of one year and responsibility of ensuring that CCTV is kept operational shall be on the senior police officer in-charge of the police station'.

On Tuesday, mid-day visited a few more police stations to see if CCTV cameras were put up and if the tapes were being preserved as per the court order.

At many police stations, officers told mid-day that the CCTV hard disk was not spacious enough to store tapes for a year as most footage gets overwritten within 30 days. Here is what we found.

Vile Parle and Khar police station

PoliceA CCTV view of a room inside a police station. File pic

At the newly-constructed police station, which has been dubbed the most high-tech in the city, has surprisingly no CCTV camera inside the detection room. However, rest of the premises is under electronic surveillance. At Khar police station, too, there was no CCTV camera inside the detection room.

Sahar and Nagpada police stations

The most surprising scenario was noted at Sahar as well as Nagpada police stations where two rooms have been dedicated for detection staff. At Sahar, the first room is where the detection officers sit and next to it the accused are interrogated. The detection room where the officers sit is equipped with CCTV cameras but some part of the room is shut off by a curtain behind which the accused is given third-degree treatment. The interrogation room has no CCTV camera.

At Nagpada police station, while the detection room has a CCTV camera, the interrogation room has none. When mid-day visited Nagpada police station on Tuesday, nearly half a dozen accused were seen seated on the floor and were being quizzed in a fraud case.

Agripada police station

The detection room at Agripada police station is huge. One needs to pass through a 12x15 sqft room to reach the space where the detection officers sit. This dimly lit detection room is equipped with one CCTV camera which does not survey activities inside the lock-up. Also, there are three iron rings fixed on the floor. When asked about them, an officer said 'Aaropiyon ko kabhi kabhi baandh ke rakhna padta hai' (Sometimes we have to keep the accused tethered with these rings).

Kanjurmarg and Pant Nagar police station

PoliceAt most police stations that mid-day visited on Tuesday, CCTV cameras were nowhere near the interrogation rooms. Representation pic

The CCTV cameras inside the detection room of Kanjurmarg and Pant Nagar police stations have been dysfunctional for the past one year. The Bhandup police station is well-covered by CCTVs cameras, but these have no Digital Video Recorders.

OfficersSpeak

Many detection officers in the Mumbai police told mid-day that cops are being made 'scapegoats' under the garb of human rights. "Now, the accused are not deterred by cops as they threaten to approach Human Rights groups if they are assaulted. We don't give third degree treatment to the accused and that is the reason that recovery rate [of valuables] in crimes is dipping these days," said an assistant police inspector requesting anonymity.

"We have been detecting cases and arresting the accused but because of the lack of third degree treatment to them, the recovery rate is almost negligible. What's the use of arresting the accused if the complainants in the case do not get their belongings back?" the API said.

Another detection officer said the CCTV at his room invades his privacy. "We have to sit for hours in the office. Every action is recorded and is being seen at the control room inside the senior PI's office. And, if the senior inspector is a woman, it becomes embarrassing as we have to hide behind the curtains to change our uniform. But, we have to respect the court's order and have been following it," said a PSI.

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