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Hidden cameras in changing rooms: Take action, revoke establishment licence, says HC to state

“Take drastic steps. Cancel their licences permanently,” said the HC.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | Published: June 17, 2015 2:28 am
Smriti Irani, Smriti Irani iit guwahati, iit guwahati Smriti Irani had lodged a complaint with the Goa Police in April after spotting a camera, allegedly pointing towards the trial room, at a Fabindia outlet in Candolim.

In case hidden cameras are found to be installed in changing rooms of malls or shops, “drastic steps” should be taken against such establishments, said Bombay High Court, on Tuesday.

The court has asked the state government to consider taking massive action against them, such as canceling licences of such establishments permanently. Justice N H Patil and S B Shukre were hearing a bunch of public interest litigations in addition to a suo-motu (on its own motion) petition following a case of woman’s molestation on a train between Nerul and Juinagar stations. Justice (retd) CS Dharmadhikari committee was then set-up in 2010 to recommend measures to curb crime against women. It has submitted its recommendations to the court.

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A suggestion was offered by the lawyer of one of the petitioners regarding stringent measures required to curb incidents such as hidden cameras being placed in changing rooms of malls and showrooms. “Take drastic steps. Cancel their licences permanently,” said the HC.

The HC also asked the state government to look into sensitising police towards handling complaints made by women. “The police force should be sent for sensitisation training,” said the court seeking responses from the Railways and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) on what was being done to ensure safety of women travelling by trains and buses, especially those plying in rural areas.

One of the intervenors in this matter also suggested setting up of a nodal office, which would constantly work against violence against women. The HC questioned if this was part of the recommendations made by the Dharmadhikari committee and was told that it was not. The government’s lawyer P P Kakade, however, told the court that such a proposal was under consideration by the government.

The state government, however, informed the court that it had still not taken a policy decision on maintaining safety of women if bars, pubs and restaurants are to be kept open all night in Mumbai. A query regarding this was raised by the court during an earlier hearing.

In an earlier hearing, a bench of Justices Naresh Patel and SB Shukre had also granted time to the government to inform them about its policy for providing free medical treatment for rape victims. The government on Tuesday had to inform the court if rape victims can also avail free treatment at private hospitals. Kakade told the court that a draft resolution regarding reimbursing acid attack victims, rape victims and sexual harassment victims would be tabled before the cabinet for approval soon.

The HC has now granted the government two week’s time to file its reply on all these issues concerning women’s safety.

Cases in point:
* Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani had lodged a complaint with the Goa Police in April after spotting a camera, allegedly pointing towards the trial room, at a Fabindia outlet in Candolim. The police had arrested four employees of the garment store soon after the incident.

* A similar incident was reported from Aquatica, a popular water park in Rajarhat, where a group of women located a hidden CCTV camera in the changing room in April 2015.

* An 18-year-old employee of a plush suburban lounge and bar was arrested after he was found videotaping women in the toilet of the establishment through a mobile phone taped to the wall. He had arrived in Mumbai from a village in Uttar Pradesh.

ruhi.bhasin@expressindia.com

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