Directions of the Supreme Court and High Courts in India

India’s Supreme Court and high courts regularly issue instructions to various government agencies, both at the central and state levels on slew of matters. Some of these directions also extend to lower courts.

Here an attempt is made to create a list of some of such court rulings that aim to make people’s lives easier. The list includes judgments that support and promote convenience for citizens and promotes fair justice.

Supreme Court directions to Municipalities / Development Authorities:

Land Acquisition for Public Purpose Should Not be Encroached Upon:

The honourable Supreme Court has expressed its discontent regarding vendors who have encroached upon the pavement adjacent to a metro train depot. Upon reviewing photographic evidence depicting a car clinic and various vendors utilizing a section of the pavement, the court emphasized that the land in question was acquired for public purposes. It firmly asserted that citizens should not be allowed to occupy or utilize it without proper authorization. In light of this, the court has directed the Delhi Development Authority and other relevant authorities to take necessary measures to prevent any unauthorized use of the pavement. This ruling was delivered in the case of Delhi Development Authority v. Jagan Singh & Ors. [2013] 2 S.C.R. 411, by the esteemed Judges Hon’ble Mr. Justice Abhay S Oka and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Karol, on the 17th of February 2023. The case number is CIVIL APPEAL/943/2023, and the nature of disposal is Appeals(s) allowed.

Supreme Court Orders / Directions of High Courts to Police

Noise pollution:

Hon’ble Supreme Court, In Re: Noise Pollution – Implementation of the Laws for restricting use of loudspeakers and high-volume producing sound systems [2005] SUPP. 1 S.C.R. 624 Date of decision: 18-07-2005 | Case Number: WRIT PETITION (CIVIL)/72/1998 | Disposal Nature: Disposed off.

Hon’ble Supreme Court has given the following directions on “Loudspeakers”:

“1. The noise level at the boundary of the public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10 dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A) whichever is lower.

  1. No one shall beat a drum or tom-tom or blow a trumpet or beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier at night (between 10. 00 p.m. and 6.a.m.) except in public emergencies.
  2. The peripheral noise level of privately owned sound system shall not exceed by more than 5 dB(A) than the ambient air quality standard specified for the area in which it is used, at the boundary of the private place.”

And in the aforesaid decision, the Supreme Court has upheld the right to live in an atmosphere free from noise pollution is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. The said decision is accessible from here:

The sound emitted from loudspeakers and/or public address systems at the said public ground are often beyond the permissible levels prescribed under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 (the “said Rules”).

The noise standards on the use of the loudspeaker/ public address system are prescribed under Rule 5, Sub-Rule (4) of the said Rules, which reads: 

“(4) The noise level at the boundary of the public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10 dB (A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB (A) whichever is lower;”

[emphasis supplied]

And, as per Rule 2(i) of the said Rules, the term ‘public place’ is defined as:

“public place” means any place to which the public have access, whether as of right or not, and includesauditorium, hotels, public waiting rooms, convention centres, public offices, shopping malls, cinema halls, educational institutions, libraries, open grounds and the like which are visited by general public;

[emphasis supplied]

The operation of the amended proviso to the Sub-Rule (5) of Rule 3 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 has been stayed by the full bench of Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Ajay Marathe V. Union of India and others; PIL No.24110/17@WP 9508/17 [2018 (4) Mh.L.J.70] (the “said decision of the Bombay High Court”) [accessible from here: and it has clarified therein that it is not necessary to have a specific declaration issued in respect of the silence zone around hospitals, educational institutions and Courts.

Not monitoring the emission of sound levels by parties to whom permissions/licenses to use loudspeaker / public address system are granted, is negating the constitutional right protected by the Environment Protection Act, the said Rules, the said decision of the Bombay High Court and the said decision of the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court directions to the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories

CCTV installations by Police and investigating agencies – issued directions, in order to maintain transparency at the police station and the officers of the investigating agencies.:

A. The Hon’ble Supreme Court, through its Order dated April 3, 2018, in SLP (Crl) No. 2302 of 2017, as documented in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh [2018] 3 S.C.R. 1096, directed the establishment of a Central Oversight Body (the “COB”) by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The primary objective of the COB was to oversee the implementation of a plan of action concerning the use of videography at crime scenes during investigations.

In its deliberations, the Supreme Court took into account the directions previously issued in the case of D.K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal & Others [2015] 7 S.C.R. 814. It recognized the need for further directives to create an oversight mechanism in every State, where an independent committee could review CCTV camera footage and periodically publish reports based on its observations. The COB was specifically instructed to issue appropriate guidelines in this regard without delay.

Additionally, the Supreme Court directed the COB to issue necessary instructions periodically to ensure the gradual implementation of videography usage, with the initial phase scheduled for completion by July 15, 2018. The introduction of crime scene videography was to occur at select locations based on viability and priority, as determined by the COB.

In response to these directives, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted the COB on May 9, 2018, as affirmed in the affidavit dated July 26, 2018. Subsequently, Compliance Affidavits and Action Taken Reports were submitted to the Supreme Court by 14 States, up to November 24, 2020.

Regrettably, a majority of these Compliance Affidavits and Action Taken Reports did not provide specific information regarding the status of CCTV cameras at each Police Station. They lacked details on the total number of functioning Police Stations within the respective State and Union Territory, the total count of installed CCTV cameras at each Police Station, the positioning of existing CCTV cameras, their operational condition, and whether they have recording capabilities, including the duration of recording. Furthermore, information pertaining to the formation of Oversight Committees in compliance with the Order dated 03.04.2018, and the status of Oversight Committees already established within the States and Union Territory was not disclosed.

B. In furtherance to above directions of 03.04.2018, Supreme Court (a Bench headed by Justice RF Nariman and comprising of Justice KM Joseph and Justice Aniruddha Bose) vide order dated 02.12.2020 (SLP (Crl.) No.3543 of 2020 in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh & Others) directed that:-
(a) all the States and Union Territories shall file Compliance affidavits by either the Principal Secretary of the State or the Secretary, Home Department of the States/Union Territories within 6 weeks.

(b) The State Level Oversight Committee (hereinafter referred to as the “SLOC”) must consist of:
(i) The Secretary/Additional Secretary, Home Department;
(ii) Secretary/Additional Secretary, Finance Department;
(iii) The Director General/Inspector General of Police; and
(iv) The Chairperson/member of the State Women’s Commission.

(c) the District Level Oversight Committee (hereinafter referred to as “DLOC”) shall consist of:
(i) The Divisional Commissioner/ Commissioner of Divisions/ Regional Commissioner/ Revenue Commissioner Division of the District (by whatever name called);
(ii) The District Magistrate of the District;
(iii) A Superintendent of Police of that District; and
(iv) A mayor of a municipality within the District/ a Head of the Zilla Panchayat in rural areas.

(d) It shall be the duty of the SLOC to see that the directions passed by this Court are carried out. Amongst others, the duties shall consist of:
i) Purchase, distribution and installation of CCTVs and its equipment;
ii) Obtaining the budgetary allocation for the same;
iii) Continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipment;
iv) Carrying out inspections and addressing the grievances received
from the DLOC; and
v) To call for monthly reports from the DLOC and immediately address any concerns like faulty equipment.

(e) Likewise, the DLOC shall have the following obligations:
i) Supervision, maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipment;
ii) Continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipment;
iii) To interact with the Station House Officer (hereinafter referred to as the “SHO”) as to the functioning and maintenance of CCTVs and its equipment; and
iv) To send monthly reports to the SLOC about the functioning of CCTVs and allied equipment.
v) To review footage stored from CCTVs in the various Police Stations to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred but are not reported.

(f) Allocation of adequate funds by States’/Union Territories’ Finance Departments for the above purpose, at the very earliest.

(g) The duty and responsibility for the working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs shall be that of the SHO of the police station concerned. And it shall be the duty and obligation of the SHO to immediately report to the DLOC any fault with the equipment or malfunctioning of CCTVs. If the CCTVs are not functioning in a particular police station, the concerned SHO shall inform the DLOC of the arrest / interrogations carried out in that police station during the said period and forward the said record to the DLOC.

(h) If the concerned SHO has reported malfunctioning or non-functioning of CCTVs of a particular Police Station, the DLOC shall immediately request the SLOC for repair and purchase of the equipment, which shall be done immediately.

(i) The Director General/Inspector General of Police of each State and Union Territory should issue directions to the person in charge of a Police Station to entrust the SHO of the concerned Police Station with the responsibility of assessing the working condition of the CCTV cameras installed in the police station and also to take corrective action to restore the functioning of all non-functional CCTV cameras. The SHO should also be made responsible for CCTV data maintenance, backup of data, fault rectification etc.

(j) The State and Union Territory Governments should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every Police Station functioning in the respective State and/or Union Territory. Further, in order to ensure that no part of a Police Station is left uncovered, it is imperative to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at all entry and exit points; main gate of the police station; all lock-ups; all corridors; lobby/the reception area; all verandas/outhouses, Inspector’s room; Sub-Inspector’s room; areas outside the lock-up room; station hall; in front of the police station compound; outside (not inside) washrooms/toilets; Duty Officer’s room; back part of the police station etc.

(k) CCTV systems that have to be installed must be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage. In areas in which there is either no electricity and/or internet, it shall be the duty of the States/Union Territories to provide the same as expeditiously as possible using any mode of providing electricity, including solar/wind power. The internet systems that are provided must also be systems which provide clear image resolutions and audio. Most important of all is the storage of CCTV camera footage which can be done in digital video recorders and/or network video recorders. CCTV cameras must then be installed with such recording systems so that the data that is stored thereon shall be preserved for a period of 18 months. If the recording equipment, available in the market today, does not have the capacity to keep the recording for 18 months but for a lesser period of time, it shall be mandatory for all States, Union Territories and the Central Government to purchase one which allows storage for the maximum period possible, and, in any case, not below 1 year. It is also made clear that this will be reviewed by all the States so as to purchase equipment which is able to store the data for 18 months as soon as it is commercially available in the market. The affidavit of compliance to be filed by all States and Union Territories and Central Government shall clearly indicate that the best equipment available as of date has been purchased.

Whenever there is information of force being used at police stations resulting in serious injury and/or custodial deaths, it is necessary that persons be free to complain for a redressal of the same. Such complaints may not only be made to the State Human Rights Commission, which is then to utilise its powers, more particularly under Sections 17 and 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, for redressal of such complaints, but also to Human Rights Courts, which must then be set up in each District of every State/Union Territory under Section 30 of the aforesaid Act. The Commission/Court can then immediately summon CCTV camera footage in relation to the incident for its safe keeping, which may then be made available to an investigation agency in order to further process the complaint made to it.

(m) The Union of India is also to file an affidavit in which it will update this Court on the constitution and workings of the Central Oversight Body, giving full particulars thereof. In addition, the Union of India is also directed to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of:
(i) Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
(ii) National Investigation Agency (NIA)
(iii) Enforcement Directorate (ED)
(iv) Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)
(v) Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
(vi) Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO)
(vii) Any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest.
As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a police station.
The COB shall perform the same function as the SLOC for the offices of investigative/enforcement agencies mentioned above both in Delhi and outside Delhi wherever they be located.

(n) The SLOC and the COB (where applicable) shall give directions to all Police Stations, investigative/enforcement agencies to prominently display at the entrance and inside the police stations/offices of investigative/enforcement agencies about the coverage of the concerned premises by CCTV. This shall be done by large posters in English, Hindi and vernacular language. In addition to the above, it shall be clearly mentioned therein that a person has a right to complain about human rights violations to the National/State Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Court or the Superintendent of Police or any other authority empowered to take cognizance of an offence. It shall further mention that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of violation of his human rights.

C. By order dated 18.04.2023, Supreme Court has granted three months’ time by way of last chance, to the Union of India and all the State Governments/Union Territories to file affidavit of compliance with the aforesaid directions of 02.12.2020. All the State Governments/Union Territories and Union of India are directed to file their respective affidavits prior to 18.07.2023 stating therein that the compliance, in effect, has been made.

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