The Role of CCTV Surveillance in Mitigating Custodial Violence in India


Custodial violence, involving excessive force, torture, and abuse by law enforcement officials, is a global issue, including in India. Despite international declarations and constitutional safeguards, custodial violence still persists, which necessitates measures to address it. One such measure is the installation of CCTV’s in police stations and other police custodies. The Supreme Court of India issued guidelines in 2020 mandating CCTV installation, but their implementation has been inadequate.[1] The admissibility of CCTV footage as evidence has been established, but challenges remain in ensuring its legitimacy.[2] To enhance the accountability and transparency of CCTV surveillance while to combat the cases of custodial violence there is a need for central and state agencies to cooperate and to make independent agency or oversight committee to regulate the working of cctv in the respective police stations  and other police custodies of States and UTs.

Key words: Custodial Violence. CCTV Surveillance , Human Rights , NCAT , HRW , Amnesty International , UDHR , Admissibility Of Evidence.


According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) custodial violence can be said as excessive force, torture or abuse which involves mental and physical abuse.[3] It is committed behind the shield of uniform and authority, within the four walls of a police station or detention facility, with the victim absolutely defenseless, Despite vows to abolish torture, the fact remains that it is more prevalent than ever before. [4]“Custodial violence” and abuse of police power are not just unusual in a particular country, but common worldwide. In Article 5[5] of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights1984, [6] which market the international trend of protection and assurance of the basic human rights, it is stated that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”[7] Despite the declaration, the criminality persists. The one of step taken  to mitigate the custodial violence worldwide was installation of CCTV surveillance in police stations, jails , and other lockups. According to (Amnesty International report 2010), CCTVs were successful in reducing cop misbehavior by 40% in Spain .[8]

India has a great history of custodial violence and police atrocities, this paper deals with the analysis of the series of precedents that has evolved jurisprudence regarding Custodial deaths and CCTV as a rectifying measure. The paper also deals with the aspect, of admissibility of CCTV footage as an  evidence in court  


The research paper is based on quantitative, descriptive, and comparative data analysis wherein secondary sources such as reports, articles,  blogs etc has been referred.


The work in this paper is focusing on Custodial violence, characterized by excessive force and torture by law enforcement officials, continues to be a persistent global issue, including in India. Despite constitutional safeguards, effective measures to address custodial violence are essential.[9]The installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in police stations has been proposed as one such measure. Reports from reputable organizations like Human Rights Watch [10]and Amnesty International [11]underscore the prevalence of custodial violence and the urgent need for preventive actions. Judicial precedents, exemplified by the Rudul Shah v State of Bihar case [12]and Paramvir Singh Saini v Baljit Singh, have recognized the gravity of the issue. [13]The integration of sources such as the NUJS SACJ article [14]and the Journal of Criminal Law and Justice publication contributes to a comprehensive understanding of custodial violence in India, supporting the arguments presented in this research paper.[15]


The police in independent India had a colonial mindset.[16] In order to preserve peace, and public order and to obtain evidence and information over the course of an investigation, the police frequently employ the third-degree method, which has been deemed a serious violation of the law. In accordance with international human rights standards prohibiting torture, India’s Constitution promotes respect and honor for human dignity and fundamental freedoms.[17] Article 21[18]ensures the right to life and personal liberty, deprivation of which can occur only in accordance with the procedure established by law, “which must be just, fair, and reasonable” which was held in the case of “Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India.”[19] The right to life and personal liberty, in its broadest sense, encompasses the right to live with human dignity[20], and hence protection “against torture and violence by the state or its agents”. [21]The National Campaign gainst Torture (NCAT) is a platform that pledges to eradicate torture and cruel or humiliating treatment throughout the world. “On the International Day in Support of Torture Victims”, a “Annual Report” was released, stating that in the year 2019, “a total of 1,731 persons died in captivity”, equating to nearly five deaths per day.

This comprised 1,606 deaths in the judicial detention and around 125 deaths in the police custody. Simultaneously, there were 1,966 fatalities in detention in 2018, including 147 in police custody and 1,819 in judicial custody.[22] Now it becomes responsibility of judiciary to protect the rights of accused or person in police custody.


The judiciary plays an essential role in safeguarding the principles of justice and defending people’ rights from state overreach. It serves as a constitutional guardian, ensuring that government activities and laws are in consonance with the fundamental rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution. [23]There are plethora of judgments shows how the judicial approach has constantly protects person rights, employing a range of measures from restorative to preventative actions.[24]

Rudul Shah v. State Of Bihar 1983[25]

 The case of  Rudul Shah has a significance in setting state liability and establishes the concept of compensatory jurisprudence for the violation of fundamental rights of the citizens also in this case apex court recognized right to speedy trial. The Constitution Of India[26]does not explicitly award the compensation, in this case Rudul shah was kept in prison for 14 years even after being acquitted , he filed a petition in the court , the court ruled in his favour and found detention illegal and awarded him compensation of Rs. 35,000 for his unjustified detention.

Nilabeti Behera v state of Orissa 1993[27]

According to the decision in Nilabeti Behera v. State of Orissa, “prisoners and detainees are not given their Fundamental rights under Article 21[28] when they are in custody.” It was also observed that “police and prison authorities are responsible for ensuring that citizens in their custody are not deprived of ‘the right to life.'”The court also awarded the mother Rs 1.5 lakh because her son died in police custody, citing “anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.”[29]

“D.K Basu v. State of West Bengal 1997”,[30][31]

The well-known Apex Court [32]decision for the preservation of prisoners’ rights while in custody, gave a thorough rule for police officers to follow while arresting anyone. “It recognized the right against custodial torture and death in police custody and instituted guidelines to be followed in all cases of arrest and detention to ensure transparency.

Even after constitutional and judicial safeguards to accused, police atrocities still exists. Thus it becomes more important to bring accountability check on police officers to reduce the effect of custodial violence. Installation of CCTV cameras became the need of the hour with increase in the number of custodial violence cases. This became a well intended step to monitor incidents that occurred in police custody.

In many cases it has been observed by sc that in case of custodial violence it is very difficult to obtain direct evidence. For most of the time court relies on circumstantial evidence, if there is proper installation of CCTV camera and proper monitoring via CCTV, it will be possible to get direct evidences. Further CCTVs improves the authenticity of evidence during course of investigation of custodial violence, hence installation of CCTV cameras became important. The topic of CCTV monitoring during an investigation in order to gather evidence has already been explored in the instances of cases.

In the case of “D.K Basu v. State of West Bengal”, [33]and “Shafique Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh 2018”, [34]court admitted the monitoring of CCTV and formation of oversight committee to examine CCTV footage on a regular basis in the police stations, where areas are sensitive to human rights violation. However, the directions of apex court were not followed.[35]

Paramvir Singh v Baljit Singh 2020[36]

In the year 2020, apex court delivered landmark judgement in the case of “Paramvir Singh Saini v.  Baljit Singh”, the judgement established compulsory installation of CCTV cameras in jails and other police custodies. To curb the devil of custodial violence in respective police stations of states and Union Territories as a preventative measure to safeguard the rights of prisoners on trial. The court came up with certain guidelines and directed center and state authorities to ensure that these guidelines are being followed.

The guidelines of SC

  • CCTV cameras must be set up in every police stations and investigating agency offices throughout the country.
  • Cameras must be placed in all areas where accused people and pre-trial detainees are brought or taken into custody, such as the lock-up, interrogation rooms, and medical examination rooms.
  • The cameras require night vision and record audio and video footage.
  • The video must be stored for at least 18 months.
  • The footage must be made accessible to the accused, their attorneys, and “the National Human Rights Commission”.
  • A mechanism must be put in place to prevent manipulation with the footage.[37]

The case acknowledged the gaps previously present cases, and issued explicit directives to be followed together with a strict time frame so that, unlike previously these guidelines do not go in vain.


The admissibility of an evidence refers to any document, testimony, or material proof used in a court of law; which are valid and pertinent. Like other sorts of evidence electronic or digital evidence is admissible in court, CCTV is an example of electronic evidence .

The Information Technology Act of 2000, [38]added Sections 65A [39]and 65B [40]to substitute Section 59 of the Evidence Act[41].Section 65A is always read alongside with Section 65B because Section 65A contains the elements of electronic records that must be proven under Section 65B’s provisions. [42]

“Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872”,[43]deals with the “admissibility of electronic records as, evidence in court proceedings”. It specifies that any record, whether electronic or digital, is referred to as a document. If such a document meets the requirements outlined in Section 65B of the Act in question, it is automatically admissible in future Court proceedings without the need for additional proof.

The essentials of Section 65B [44]:

  • The information must be obtained throughout the normal course of work by the person who has legitimate control over the computer’s use.
  • The information being regularly supplied into the computer during the normal course of the mentioned tasks.
  • Over the course of the time period, the computer was operating properly, or the inappropriate operation was not of such a kind that it harmed the electronic or digital record or the accuracy of its contents.
  • Data entered into a computer throughout the regular course of an individual’s activities is where the information in electronic or digital documents is derived from.[45]

In the context of CCTV as evidence, cameras capture images and convert them to digital form using a DVR, An electronic file that stores data in electronic format will be treated as primary evidence under Section 62 of the Indian Evidence Act,[46] if presented in the Court. If the original document is brought before the court. So there will be no need to comply with the provisions of section  65(4).[47]

 However, in the cases where large no. of cameras are installed, where the information is digitally stored in computers, bringing the entire setup in the court becomes impossible. In such case the data is copied to CD or USB which are not considered as primary evidence so it has to comply with the requirements of section 65(B) ,IEA.[48]

In the case of “Tomaso Bruno v. State of U.P”, [49]an Italian national was murdered in Varanasi, and two other Italian nationals were convicted . “The Court stated that CCTV footage is a crucial piece of evidence that may have proven the crime, and the prosecution’s unwillingness to produce the CCTV footage calls the prosecution’s case into serious doubt”. [50]In the Northeast Delhi Riots of 2020 a man named Faizan died shortly after being released from a police station . The police claimed that the CCTV cameras at the station were not operational during the incident. The Delhi High Court took note of the police’s assertion regarding the non-functioning CCTV cameras and instructed them to submit a report detailing the malfunctioning cameras. The court emphasized the importance of functional surveillance systems, including CCTV cameras, in police stations to ensure transparency and accountability.[51]


According to the data submitted by the “Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the year 2022 “before the Rajya Sabha, the number of deaths in police custody has increased by approximately 60% in the last three years and 75% in the last two years across the country. In the last two years, there have been 4,484 documented custody killings, and another 233 people have been killed in suspected police encounters across India. It is evident that the guidelines set by 2020 judgement by apex court are not being followed. which is a blatant violation of citizens’ fundamental rights guaranteed by “Articles 14,[52] 19,[53] and 21 of the constitution”,[54] as well as the majesty and dignity of the Indian court system.


The guidelines do not specifically mention or assure separate investigations. An inspection by the same police station whose personnel are implicated may result in evidence tampering. Furthermore, while the standards require the formation of oversight committees, the Station House Officer (“SHO”) bears the primary duty for maintaining cameras and backup data. However, the standards failed to recognize that the SHO is frequently the authority under whose order torture is frequently expressed. Second, the expression “serious injuries and/or custodial death” is confusing because no clear definition of significant injuries has been offered.

Furthermore, it is unclear if serious injuries just entail physical violence or also include mental torture. Because Indian law does not consider torture to be an offense in and of itself, these rules appear to imply a high threshold for victims to seek relief in court.[55]


Custodial violence is a prevalent problem that breaches human rights, notably in India. While installing CCTV cameras at police stations is a step in the right direction, it will not solve the problem entirely. The admissibility of CCTV footage as an evidence has been established, but issues remain in assuring its accountability. The guidelines established by the Supreme Court in 2020 have not been fully followed, and there are gaps that must be filled.[56]

It is the responsibility of state to maintain public order, so the protection of rights of its owns citizens became an outmost importance. The apex court in 2021 directed Ministry of home affairs [57] to allot funds for the installation of CCTV cameras at police stations, but there was lack of responsibility on the part of state authorities. As for the accountability check on surveillance of CCTV cameras there must be independent agency to control the working of CCTV cameras in police stations and other police custodies. There are instances of cases where the CCTV footage being misused or vanished by police officers.[58]

To maintain the CCTVs surveillance in police stations or in police custodies, the center and state agencies should work together. There can be evaluation report be made for the working of CCTVs across the country to determine the shortcomings of specific area of state,  where CCTVs are working properly and these shortcomings should be addressed  by authorities .

Further there must be continuous research should be done on proper working of CCTV cameras in police stations and other lockups to improve the reliability on surveillance system  preventing custodial violence.

The comparison can be made with other countries CCTV surveillance to mitigate the effect of custodial violence and determining how it can be implemented in country like India.

The above measures can be taken by authorities to enhance the working of CCTVs in police stations to ensure accountability, transparency on the surveillance system and can decrease the effect of custodial violence in India.


Custodial Violence is a serious violation of human rights that occurs worldwide, including in India. Despite constitutional provisions and judicial safeguards, incidents of custodial violence and police atrocities persist. The installation of CCTV cameras in police stations and other custodial facilities has been recognized as a potential solution to monitor and prevent such violence. The landmark judgment of  “Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh” in 2020 mandated the mandatory installation of CCTV cameras and laid down guidelines to ensure their proper functioning. However, the implementation and adherence to these guidelines have been lacking. To effectively address custodial violence, there is a need for greater accountability, independent oversight, continuous evaluation, and improved cooperation between central and state agencies in India.[59]

Sneha Bharti

(Second year student at Dharmashastra National law, University, Jabalpur )

[1] Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2020) 7 SCC 397

[2] The NUJS SACJ, Custodial Violence in India, (June 12, 2023),

[3] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2016: India (2016).

[4] Custodial Violence and Police Brutality : A Critical Overview and ways to reach Reforms, 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 1239

[5] Universal Declaration of Human Rights art. 5, U.N. Doc. A/RES/217(III) (Dec. 10, 1948).

[6] Ibid

[7] Universal Declaration of Human Rights art. 5, U.N. Doc. A/RES/217(III) (Dec. 10, 1948).

[8] Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights in [spain]: Report 2010 (2010)

[9] Human Rights Watch, Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody (December 19, 2016), available at

[10] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2016: India (2016).

[11] Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights in [spain]: Report 2010 (2010)

[12] Rudul Shah v. State Of Bihar, AIR 1983 SC 394 .

[13] Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2020) 7 SCC 397

[14] The NUJS SACJ, Custodial Violence in India, (June 12, 2023),

[14] ibid

[15] Custodial Violence and Police Brutality : A Critical Overview and ways to reach Reforms, 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 1239

[16] Custodial Violence and Police Brutality : A Critical Overview and ways to reach Reforms, 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 1239

[17] Custodial Violence and Police Brutality : A Critical Overview and ways to reach Reforms, 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 1239

[18] Constitution of India, art. 21.

[19] Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597.

[20] bid

[21] bid

[22] National Campaign Against Torture, Annual Report (2019).

[23] Constitution of India,(1950).

[24] Ibid

[25] Rudul Shah v. State Of Bihar, AIR 1983 SC 394 .

[26] Constitution of India (1950).

[27] Nilabeti Behera v. State of Orissa, AIR 1993 SC 1960

[28] Constitution of India, art. 21.

[29] Custodial Violence and Police Brutality : A Critical Overview and ways to reach Reforms, 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 1239

[30] D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1997 SC 610 (India).


[32] Ibid

[33] bid

[34] Shafique Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh(2018)5 SCC 311

[35] Criminal Law Studies NLUD, “CCTV Footage: A Silent Witness,” Criminal Law Studies NLUD (September 5, 2020), (last visited July 12, 2023).

[36] Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2020) 7 SCC 397

[37] Ibid

[38] Information Technology Act, 2000, Act No. 21 of 2000

[39] Evidence Act, 1872,§ 65(A), Act 1 of 1872, (India).

[40] Evidence Act, 1872,§ 65(B), Act 1 of 1872, (India).

[41] Evidence Act, 1872,§ 59, Act 1 of 1872, (India).

[42] bid

[43] Evidence Act, 1872,§ 65(A), Act 1 of 1872, (India).


[45] Jus Corpus, (last visited July 28, 2023).

[46]  Evidence Act, 1872,§ 62, Act 1 of 1872, (India).

[47] Evidence Act, 1872,§ 65(B)(4), Act 1 of 1872, (India).

[48] Evidence Act, 1872,§ 65(4), Act 1 of 1872, (India).

[49] Tomaso Bruno & Anr. v State of U.P., (2015) 7 SCC 178

[50] Criminal Law Studies NLUD, “CCTV Footage: A Silent Witness,” Criminal Law Studies NLUD (September 5, 2020), (last visited July 12, 2023)

[51] The Indian Express, Northeast Delhi riots: Man died hrs after release from station, police tell HC CCTVs weren’t working, (Mar. 23, 2021),

[52] Constitution of India, art. 14.

[53] Constitution of India, art. 19.

[54] Constitution of India, art. 21.

[55] The NUJS SACJ, Custodial Violence in India, (June 12, 2023),

[56] Ibid

[57] Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, “Annual Report on Security Issues” ( (last visited July 12, 2023).

[58] Custodial Violence and Police Brutality : A Critical Overview and ways to reach Reforms, 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 1239

[59] Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2020) 7 SCC 397

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