Private Detective Azaadi….?
By Maxwell Pereira
arrest by Delhi Police of Bhupinder Singh in the Amar Singh phone-tapping
case has put in focus the issue of private detectives and what
governs their activities. Bhupinder was running a Detective Agency,
we are told. Who made him a private detective, who authorised
him, does he have a license or certification from any authority
to be a private detective or to run a detective agency, is not
stated or disclosed anywhere.
believe we have never known a time when private detectives were
not around. And through growing up, detectives were heroes, and
etective novels were a great hit, forming bulk of the reading
indulged in - much to the ire of parents and educators. There
was always something romantic about detective activity, something
very exciting. But rarely did one come across a private detective
in real life - unlike I believe, the great demand they are in,
in present times.
private detective is a person who acts as, advocates to be, advertises
or otherwise represents that the person is a private detective,
private investigator or special investigator. The term "private
detective" worldwide has today come to mean - a person who
engages in the business of making investigations for remuneration
concerning matters like - Crimes or wrongs done or threatened
against the State; the identity, conduct, business, honesty, activity,
movement, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions,
acts, reputation or character of any person, if such information
is obtained in secret, without the knowledge of the person being
observed; the location, disposition or recovery of lost or stolen
property; the cause or responsibility for fires, libels, losses,
accidents, damage, injury or death; Securing evidence to be used
before any court, public board, officer, or investigating committee.
India though, private detective activity revolves mainly around
pre and post marital investigations. But detective agencies also
foray into other areas - like corporate, financial and personal
investigations, property deals, surveillance over individuals,
verification of antecedents and documents, of businesses and of
businessmen and so on. All detective agencies are quite complacent
though over the fact that any prying they do for information,
is totally above board, since according to general perception
there are no strong privacy laws in the country which are easily
enforceable, and there is no regulation of detective activity
or of detective agencies.
has led to dual standards in dealing with violations committed
on what is considered individual privacy - as witnessed in the
handling of a series of 'sting' operations that exposed many a
scam 'midst us in 2005. Earlier, with all the hype the Tehlka
sting on the likes of Bangaru Laxman etc attracted, no action
whatsoever to penalise those who were caught on tape did materialise.
However, in the cash-for-question scam we made history with the
expulsion from Parliament of eleven of its elected members. The
spying done in this expose was accepted by all as in public interest.
In the present instance though, the phone-tapping of Amar Singh
has been attempted to be catapulted into a national debate over
the violation of his privacy.
tapping in India by law is not permissible, except for matters
involving national security, affecting international relations,
and of crime. However, for a people who have grown used to listening
in on other people's conversations thanks to cross-connections
that plagued our communication services, we have blunted ourselves
to the seriousness of this malady that exists more in violation
than in practise. So much so, while phone-tapping cannot at all
be in the realm of any private activity, there was this reputed
detective who last weekend was openly boasting in a television
programme, of how he goes about tapping merrily a spouse's telephone
after obtaining an 'authorisation' from the other spouse! And
how this Delhi detective whose business card reads "Winner
of World's Best Detective Award" has not tasted jail for
this illegal activity, beats me!
are high flier dealers in town who boast today of having provided
the latest of surveillance equipment to government agencies in
the intelligence and regular policing wings, to Corporates and
business houses, and even to private individuals. Equipment from
CCTVs to gadgetry that lets you tap phones, bug offices, hack
computers, read people's emails, and sms messages and what have
you. And of course, high-resolution secret cameras that help you
score with sting operations!
up a detective agency anywhere in the world, needs a license or
certification from the competent regulatory authority - be it
from the chief of police or the designated department of the government.
In India one can set up shop - I mean a detective agency, merely
by registering the business activity under the Shops and Establishment
Act or by registering the firm with the Registrar of Companies
under the Companies Act. In many cases detectives operate even
without registering their business. There is no one to stop, there
is no one to check or regulate the activity.
58 years after independence, it is a matter of shame that we have
not found the need to regulate the activities of those who want
to spy or pry on us. That is because we are a people who neither
have, nor learnt to have respect for the privacy of another. Individual
privacy needs to be sacrosanct, and should not be violated other
than in extreme circumstances and then only under stringent of
restrictive conditions and in the rarest of rare cases as provided
Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You
can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and email@example.com
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