The Delhi government recently told the High Court that one major reason behind its 2017 decision is to save and secure students from sexual abuse and bullying in view of a plea filed by Delhi Parents Association and Government School Teachers Association on installing CCTV cameras inside classrooms in all state-run schools.
The plea challenges two cabinet decisions dated September 11, 2017, and December 11, 2017, passed by the Delhi government on making provision for the installation of CCTV cameras inside classrooms of government schools and live-streaming of such video footage to parents.
However, the respondent argued that its decision is not absolute and would always be subject to reasonable restrictions by the state like any other fundamental right.
“It is submitted that in balancing the interest of the State to ensure the safety and protection of the students along with the right of privacy in a classroom, it is to be borne in mind the extent to which the expectation of privacy would be reasonable in a public classroom,” the government told the court.
It further contended that the decision of installing cameras in classrooms of all its schools is to ensure the safety and security of children, especially in light of the rampant incidents of sexual abuse and bullying.
The defendant added that the decision was not only taken due to the spike in child abuse cases in 2017, but it was also in the pipeline for a long time.The defendant further added that it is also to improve the teacher-learning processes for better learning outcomes.
“It is submitted that with the consent of the teachers some of the lecturers can be recorded for further dissemination and the recordings can also be used to analyse and provide feedback to the teachers to improve the teaching processes in order to ensure better understanding amongst the students,” the government stated.
On the other hand, the plaintiff argued that the decision to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms, without obtaining specific consent from the students, their parents, or the teachers, is a gross violation of their fundamental right to privacy.
The parents association has opposed the idea of cross-sharing classroom footage with other parents or unauthorised third persons. They fear that such footage may be misused for morphing and dissemination on social media.