Observing that Maharashtra accounts for a large share of custodial deaths that occur in the country, Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed state government to install close circuit television cameras at all the police stations, so that entire building could be under surveillance.
As many as 23.48% of the total custodial deaths in the country in the last fifteen years took place in the state, the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said, citing the statistics provided by National Crime Bureau.
The court directed that CCTVs be put up in all the police stations, and a compliance report be filed within four weeks. The HC is hearing two petitions regarding custodial deaths. Both PILs seek probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"We direct the state government to immediately install CCTVs and maintain them in every corridor and room of the police station so that every part of the police station is under surveillance," the bench said.
The HC also directed that tapes of CCTV recording should be preserved for a minimum of one year. The senior police inspector or in-charge of the police station will be responsible for ensuring that CCTVs are operational.
Advocate Yug Chaudhary, appointed as amicus curie (friend of the court) to assist the court, said in most cases of custodial death, the victim is found to have been detained illegally, never produced before the magistrate.
After the arrest, the person is supposed to be produced within 24 hours before a magistrate. The court directed that this provision should be "scrupulously followed in letter and spirit." Immediately after the arrest, relatives of the accused should be informed of arrest and reason.
"Safety, health and well being of the accused will be the responsibility of the arresting officer, investigating officer and the station house officer," court observed.
If any accused in police custody is found to be injured, he shall be immediately taken to nearby hospital and provided "best medical attention". Also, the injuries should be photographed, the court said.