NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday took the city police to task for lack of CCTVs in the capital, saying if the installations had been done in time, the city would have seen fewer crimes.

“Had you done this in time (putting up CCTVs), your work would have been lessened and Delhi would not have been called the ‘– capital’ of the country,” a bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said, indicating the capital was being called the crime capital.

The comments came during the hearing of a case it took suo motu cognizance of relating to the recovery of an unidentified woman’s body from Shantivan area on the banks of the Yamuna two days ago, whose autopsy has not yet been carried out.

HC demanded to know from the police if there were any cameras installed at traffic lights and intersections to check such incidents of robbery and catching the culprits. “Are you doing anything to check this activity?” it remarked, seeking to know steps taken in the specific case.

In its response, the police said in some areas it relies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) of private companies to install CCTVs and added that after the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya case, it had floated a tender for procurement of more cameras.

The court directed the police not to depend on CSR activities and put up more close circuit TVs on its own with signboards saying that people are under surveillance.

It also directed the police that the first ring of a call made to the emergency number 100 should be recorded and the time logged to improve the response time. People should not be made to wait for several minutes for the call to be picked up, it said.

Interestingly, the issue of CCTV coverage to prevent crime in Delhi had led another HC bench to issue directions last year. It had ordered better street lighting, more CCTV cameras and public toilets, after the police told HC there are 118 vulnerable locations in the city for which about 587 CCTVs were required to be installed, but their procurement and installation would take a lot of time.

Asserting that lack of funds should not be cited as an excuse for not ensuring cameras, lighting and public amenities, HC bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji had said there was a “grave urgency” for taking such steps and if sufficient funds were not available with the agencies, it will direct that money is drawn from the Nirbhaya and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan funds.

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