“Rs 60 Crore Wasted”: Bombay High Court On CCTVs In Police Stations

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The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the whole process of installation of CCTV cameras inside police stations across Maharashtra was a “farce” and the money allotted for the project has been wasted.

A division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and M N Jadhav had last week asked for a report from the government providing details of functional as well as non-functional CCTVs (closed-circuit television cameras) at all police stations.

The court had passed the order when it was informed during the hearing of a petition that the CCTVs installed in a particular police station in Maharashtra were not functioning for the past two months.

The high court had then referred to a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that directed installation of CCTVs across all police stations in the country.

On Tuesday, when the report was submitted to the court, the bench noted that it was devoid of the relevant particulars sought by it.

“We see that action has been taken after this court passed the order. Are we supposed to run the administration…spoon feed them? Whatever we have stated (in order) has been reproduced in the ‘paripatrak’ (directions issued) by the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP),” the court said.

“A common man goes to the police station thinking that the Supreme Court guidelines are being followed. And we do not know what is happening to the ₹ 60 crore allocated by the state for CCTV installation project,” Justice Kathawalla observed.

As per the report submitted by the government, there are 1,089 police stations in the state. So far, 6,092 cameras have been installed in 547 police stations of which 5,639 are functional, while the remaining are inoperative.

The court pointed out as per the government’s report, ₹ 6 lakh had been spent for installation of CCTVs in each police station.

“I have got CCTVs in my house, but I have not spent more than ₹ 35,000 for that,” Justice Jadhav said, adding even after spending ₹ 6 lakh, the recording period of the CCTVs was not as long as what was stated in the Supreme Court order.

“They don’t want it to be recorded. They don’t want to show to any courts or authorities what is happening in police stations. This is all a farce, and they do not want the courts to know. ₹ 60 crore wasted,” Justice Kathawalla noted.

The bench fixed the next hearing on February 21 and asked Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to provide “active assistance” to the court over the matter.

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