In a first, Supreme Court orders installation of CCTV cameras in district courts, but without audio

High Courts have been asked to ensure that courts in at least two districts of each state and union territories install CCTV cameras.

In a first, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court ordered High Courts across India to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in some courts under their jurisdiction.

The video recording facilities will initially be installed in at least two districts of each state and union territory, The Telegraph reported. The apex court has set a time frame of three months to complete the work of installing the cameras.

"We direct that at least in two districts in every state/union territory (with the exception of small states/union territories where it may be considered to be difficult to do so by the concerned high courts) CCTV cameras (without audio recording) may be installed inside the courts and at such important locations of the court complexes as may be considered appropriate," The Indian Express s as the Supreme Court as saying.

NO AUDIO, NO RTI

Notably, the video recordings will not be accompanied by corresponding audio nor will they be available to general public under the Right To Information Act. The videos will only be released to the public under the express directives of the respective High Courts.

The Telegraph report notes that the two-judge bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit delivered the order after the Centre indicated it was in favour of CCTVs in courtrooms for increased transparency and, according to the Indian Express, to keep electronic records of court cases.

The Indian Express further reports that the Supreme Court order comes after several rounds of discussions between the executive and the judiciary. According to the report, since August 2013, union law ministers have written three times to respective chief justices of India, urging the court to consider allowing video and audio recordings of judicial proceedings.

The Supreme Court also indicated that it would take the matter forward after examining how its current directive to High Courts gets implemented.

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