Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cops want CCTVs in pubs to ‘prevent raids’

Mateen Hafeez & Swati Deshpande TNN


Mumbai: Police in south Mumbai are pushing bars, pubs and restaurants to install CCTV cameras on their premises, eliciting cries of invasion of privacy from lawyers, who call the exhortation unjustifiable.
 
    Officers in-charge of the city’s ‘south region’ recently held a meeting with managements of pubs, eateries and bars in the area. During the meet, the managements were told to set up closed-circuits cameras inside their establishments so that cops can keep track of violations.
 
    “We will collect the footage weekly or fortnightly. If we do not find any violations of law, we will not conduct raids,” said a senior officer, arguing that there should be “no problem in installing cameras if there is no illegal activity and if the curfew hour is being followed”. The officer continued: “We will continue raids if these places don’t abide by the law.” 

    But lawyers saw the police demand very differently.  “This is like Big Brother watching. It would be a complete invasion of an individual’s privacy. What is the justification?” said advocate Amit Desai. Legal principles require a reasonable apprehension of commission of crime for a rule or law to be introduced. “Police cannot decide to wire up places with CCTV cameras without a justifiable reason,” argued Desai.
 
    Amain thoroughfare, lawyers noted, can be covered with CCTV cameras to prevent and investigate serious crimes such as terror attacks. But to take similar measures at a private club, without a scientific study to first prove fear of a crime, is untenable.
 
    Veteran crime law counsel Shrikant Bhat said that CCTVs “at the entrance can be a permissible exception”. Still, “police cannot put into operation a rule without first conducting a study on the violation of privacy such a move would entail,” he added.
 
    Lawyers say privacy in India is not governed by any comprehensive law, though the apex court has, through rulings since the ’60s, held it to be a fundamental right-—under right to life—and a common law right. Such a right cannot be trampled on by rules made by police without satisfying the test of Constitutional validity.
 
    Additional police commissioner (south region) Krishna Prakash admitted the demand for CCTV cameras has been resisted by establishments in the area. So far, only three places on VP Road have complied. “Our intention is not to create trouble,” maintained a cop. “We have to go by the law.”
 
    Last weekend, the MRA Marg police—which fall under the south region—raided LIV lounge bar at Kala Ghoda for staying open beyond the 1.30am deadline. Nearly 200 of its guests were dragged to the police station and kept there, according to the patrons, without explanation.
 
TOI Interactive ‘Guilty cops should be punished’  
 
 
We asked our readers if guests should be hauled to police stations for law violations by pubs. Here are some replies
 
    No way. It is shameful that cops are acting like thugs and asserting their power on innocent citizens. Guilty cops should be punished. Action should be taken against them
— Ajay Gohil
 
    This was nothing but harassment by men in khaki of helpless guests who were at no fault if the establishment overshot the curfew hour. It is the owner of the bar who violated norms and should be held accountable. I strongly feel that in a city like Mumbai the deadline for pubs is ridiculous. It should be extended, like in other global cities, given today’s lifestyles
— Bhagwan B Thadani
 
    When law doesn’t say that guests can be punished, anyone advocating locking them up is advocating breach of law. The act is of owners. What cops are doing is illegal and to show fake good work
— Amit K
 
    No, cops should have better things to do then harass innocent young people
— Rakesh Jamwal
 
    If the place is open beyond permissible hour it is the owner’s responsibility
— Vikram
 
    Patrons cannot be mistreated for the mistake or violation made by pubs or bars. Establishments are supposed to adhere to rules and make sure patrons leave their premises immediately after closing hours
— KRC Murty
 
    No, since they have the alibi of ignorance of the extant law. It, however, is followed by a big proviso that citizens should behave themselves
— Mukund Kumar

 
PRIVACY LAW India has no comprehensive privacy law
But the SC ruled that privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution and a common law right
The right to privacy has been a neglected area in India for decades. Many legislation deal with privacy issues—such as the Information Technology Act—but no horizontal legislation deal with it comprehensively across all contexts
The Parliament proposed a Right to Privacy Bill which is yet to be converted into an Act

The Times of India, October 31, 2012

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