Mumbai: Bombay High Court today asked petitioner Sameer Sabharwal to spell out how the Right to Privacy was being violated in the guidelines that the Mumbai police has come out with regarding checking hotels and lodges without warrants.
Sabharwal said that “hotel rooms were a person’s own space and it was only in hotel lobby, for example, that a raid could be conducted.”
THE COURT FEELS OTHERWISE
However, the Division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and A A Sayed did not buy these arguments. Justice Oka said, ” If Mumbai police has some information, then it will have to be checked. And they have made provisions for this in their guidelines.”
Justice Oka also pointed out that in this case, it was not the victims who had come to the court.
“This is a Public Interest Litigation and there are limitations on such issues being discussed under the PIL. We cannot go on discussing the guidelines.”
Justice Oka has given three weeks time to the petitioners to explain their stand on Right to Privacy that were supposedly violated in the guidelines.
Sabharwal, a businessman from Khar had filed the PIL barely a week after the raid citing loss of honour and dignity for the couples who were subjected to immense mental torture by the intrusive action of the authorities. It was during the hearing of the PIL that the Mumbai police had come out with the guidelines.
The police had conducted a raid on four hotels and lodges at Aksa beach in the jurisdiction of Malvani police station on August 6 last year. Media reports had cried foul as to how the raids were conducted allegedly pulling out couples from rooms and booking them for indecent behaviour.
WHAT THE GUIDELINES SAY
Mumbai police had come out with guidelines in April this year.
The guidelines specify that police should always show their identity cards in general and also when someone asks for it so that there is no ambiguity in the mind of any person concerning the genuineness of the police conducting the raid.
Police team should consist of women staff members. While entering establishments police should first approach the management of hotels to get details of the checked in customers. Policemen should behave properly especially with women and aged persons. Such raids at hotels should have the approval of zonal Deputy commissioners of police.
While raiding police should first check the identification cards provided at the reception of hotel and if they have doubt or want to check the check the identity of person then they should take a hotel staff along with them while going to the room of hotel. Questioning of women customers can only be done by women police officers or at least in the presence of a woman police staff member.
Police has to ensure right that no person is deprived of right to life or personal liberty. Media should not be given access during such raids and senior officer conducting raid should be held responsible otherwise. And if any other branch of Mumbai police is conducting a raid then local police has to be informed by them.
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