SC orders CCTVs in district courts, but without audio

In a first, the Supreme Court has ordered high courts across India to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in courts under their jurisdiction.

The video recording facilities will initially be installed in at least two districts of each state and union territory. 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," a Supreme Court bench said.

Notably, the video recordings will not be accompanied by corresponding audio nor will they be available to the 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.

A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit delivered the order after the Centre indicated it was in favour of CCTVs in courtrooms for increased transparency and to keep an electronic records of court cases.

The Supreme Court order comes after several rounds of discussions between the executive and the judiciary in this regard, The Indian Express reports.

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.