The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the installation of Closed Circuit Television cameras and live streaming of CCTV footage in government schools in Delhi, Bar and Bench reported. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose declined the petitioner interim relief.
The Supreme Court had in May issued a notice to the Delhi government based on a petition by Amber Tickoo, a law student at National Law University, Delhi. The petitioner, in a plea filed through advocate Manisha Ambwani, alleged that the order to install CCTVs in schools violates the fundamental right to privacy.
“The said installation of CCTV cameras and providing live feed of the same to anyone with a user ID and password jeopardizes the safety and security of young girls as also the female teachers and shall directly give rise to the incidents of stalking and voyeurism,” the plea said.
The petitioner said the order will violate the dignity of women of menstrual age. The petition noted that girls of school-going age are unsure of how to handle their reproductive health. “It is natural to be baffled at the sudden changes the body goes through and that girls experience unique social pressure,” the plea said. Given this reality, the decision to install CCTVs in schools was preposterous, the plea claimed.
The petitioner said that the government’s plan lacked any mention of how the data collected will be protected. The plea said there is a possibility that the data may be hacked. Tickoo added that surveillance on teachers and children will have a “chilling effect” on free speech and expression of the individuals inside the classroom.
On July 7, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had launched the project to install CCTVs, and said that cameras would be in place in all government schools by November. The chief minister dismissed concerns that the order would violate schoolchildren’s privacy. “There will be no privacy breach, children go to school for education, to learn discipline and become good citizens of the country... they do not go there for anything private,” he claimed.