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Students at the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata have raised concerns regarding invasion of privacy and aligned issues, which have emerged following the installation of CCTV cameras in various areas of the campus, including within classrooms and near the girls hostel.
Recently it was reported by Legally India that two letters voicing these concerns had been circulated within the student community and were to be submitted to the concerned authorities for further action.
A letter drafted by the Student Juridical Association (SJA) had raised issues surrounding the all-pervasive presence of CCTV cameras, particularly within classrooms. This, it contends, has the “counter-productive effect of creating an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion between the students, the faculty and the administration.”
It has been pointed out in the letter that the CCTVs were installed initially with the ostensible object of guarding against vandalism of expensive digital podiums in classrooms. However, following overnight installation of CCTVs which were found to have a greater scope of surveillance than anticipated, it was communicated by the Registrar (Acting) that the cameras were intended for “security and examination purposes”, and further that they check on “regularity, student faculty interaction and like matters”.
The letter, inter alia, registers protest against the non-inclusion of student representatives in determining policy regarding the implementation of such surveillance. Another letter, drafted by Girl’s Hostel representatives, addressed concerns pertaining to instances of misuse of CCTV footage, especially by security staff to harass students.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, a faculty member has said that a Committee has been formed following submission of the letter, to check into complaints regarding access and misuse of CCTV footage. The Committee, comprising three faculty members, has the mandate of determining how the footage can be used and how it can be protected. Requests made to include student representation in the Committee have not been acceded to thus far.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Ishwara Bhat could not be reached for comment.
Read copy of letter drafted by SJA here.
Read copy of letter drafted by Representatives of the Girl’s Hostel here.