Police often claims that CCTV cameras at police station are dysfunctional to cover up unlawful detention: Madhya Pradesh HC

The Madhya Pradesh High Court while hearing a plea against alleged unlawful detention of the Petitioner by local Police authorities in the state, made prima facie observation that in order to escape liability, the Police often take a false stand that the CCTVs installed at Police station are not functioning.

This Court feels prima facie 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 dysfunctional,” observed a Bench of Justice Atul Sreedharan.

It added that such a stand taken by the Police does not augur well for the ordinary citizens of the State as 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 disfunctional during the period which the citizen says that he was unlaw detainer in the police station.

The remarks were made after the Court noted contradictions in the statements made by the local Police and by the Prosecutor, regarding reasons for not furnishing CCTV footage of the alleged date of detention. The former claimed that CCTV footage cannot be given as the cameras are not functioning since February 17. The prosecutor on the other hand submitted that the CCTV footage of the said period cannot be shown to the petitioner as that would reveal the identity of the source informant.

The facts of the petitioner’s case reveal a very shocking state of affairs in the State of Madhya Pradesh,” the Bench remarked while expressing surprise at the contrary stance. It noted that the prosecutor’s excuse for not giving the footage logically means that the CCTV cameras were functioning and there was indeed footage. But the police on the other hand claimed that the cameras themselves had turned dysfunctional from February, 2021.

In these circumstances, the Bench noted that the case discloses a larger issue and it has therefore summoned DIG- Bhopal (Urban), and SP (South Bhopal) on the next date of hearing, through video conferencing. They have been asked to come up with an explanation as to why the cameras were dysfunctional from 17.2.2021, whether the authorities who had to be informed about the dysfunctionality of the cameras were duly so informed by the SHO of PS Piplan, 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.