Installation Of CCTVs In Spas Violate Right To Privacy: Single Bench Of Madras HC Differs With Coordinate Bench's Decision
Installation of CCTV cameras in spas and massage parlours, on the basis of apprehension, is "intrusion into the rights of individuals" and would amount to infringing their bodily autonomy, the Madras High Court has observed.
Justice G R Swaminathan of the Madurai Bench of the HC made the observation on Tuesday while disposing of a petition from a spa owner seeking direction to the Tiruchirappalli police to issue a no objection certificate. He also wanted this Court to restrain the police from interfering with the running of the spa.
The judge noted that installing CCTV cameras was also a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
"In the first place, unless a legislature mandates by law that CCTV cameras should be installed in certain place, it cannot be done. It is violation of Art 21 (on privacy)," Court said.
"The installation of CCTV equipment inside premises such as a spa would unquestionably infract upon a person's bodily autonomy. These are inviolable spaces where the prying eye of the state simply cannot be allowed to enter," the Judge added.
A decision to install a CCTV camera which has a bearing on a person's privacy requires the most careful of considerations, requiring the government to apply its mind prudently and determine what manner of regulations ought to be put in place for its proper use, the Court said.
"Suspicion that immoral activities are taking place in massage centres cannot be reason enough to intrude into an individual's right to relax for it intrinsically is part and parcel of his fundamental right to privacy," the Judged observed.
The government notification, the Judge said, contemplated cameras at the entry and exit points without any prejudice to the individual's privacy.
He also disagreed with another Judge's order while hearing a writ petition filed for obtaining the "No objection Certificate", from police where the latter had directed the installation of functional CCTV cameras in all spas, massage therapy centres in the state.
"In my humblest opinion, and I say this with the greatest of respect to my revered brother Judge, the judgment in C.P Girija v. The Superintendent of Police and Others appears to run counter to the law laid down by the 9-judge bench judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1", the Court held.
The Judgment of Justice G R Swaminathan starts thus:-
"After a tiring day trekking in the forest, Lord Rama chose a resting place. He dropped his bow and arrows on the ground. When he woke up the next morning, he found that one of his arrows had fatally pierced a frog. The frog was about to breathe its last. The anguished Rama asked the frog as to why it did not raise an alarm. The innocent frog replied, "when others hurt me, I call your name "Rama Rama"-but when you are the source of trouble-who else can I call?"