Article 21 of the Indian Constitution gives us the Right to Privacy and with this right, we get the authority to question the constitutionality of private detective agencies. Private detective agencies conduct private investigations and investigations for specific individuals or groups in cases such as divorce, insurance, criminal cases.
In India, the agencies for private investigation are legal, but there is no law to regulate such agencies’ actions. These agencies are hardly controlled by the government. They are free to function without constraints in India because there is no law to control them and therefore there is no certainty that whether these agencies are within the ambit of constitution or not?
The private detective agency conduct an investigation for a particular individual. They do not have the power to arrest or detain any person like the police. The private detective agency conduct the investigation by various highly advanced technological products like- spy camera and transmitters, private investigation software, mobile surveillance software, spy microphone and, GPS device to track the person, vehicle, etc., mobile phone jammer, microscope; hidden cameras, other innovative devices, and with this amount of technical assistance they can collect a substantial quantity of someone’s personal information and therefore it is certainly evident that your private information is no more private.
In Govind v. State of M.P.,the petitioner challenged the validity of M.P. Police Regulations 855 and 856 authoring domiciliary visits (‘Domiciliary visits’ mean visits by the police in the night to the private house for the purpose of making sure that the suspect is staying home or whether he has gone out) on the ground that they are violating the fundamental right guaranteed in Article 21 which also included the ‘right to privacy’. The Supreme Court held that Regulations855 and 856 have the force of law and, therefore, they were valid. Now here point to be noted here is ‘Force of law’, in order to safeguard our right to privacy from the actions which are susceptible to infringement of this right, we need to navigate those actions through codified laws.IB, R&AW, CBI also do secret investigations to collect highly personal information of people but they will be not considered for violating the right to privacy because their actions have the force of law.
The Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2007
The bill named ‘The Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill’ was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 13th August 2007 by Late. Smt. SushmaSwaraj for the codification of lawful functioning of private detective agencies. Some of the major points which were proposed in bill were:
1. Licencing- The Bill looks to present the arrangement of Licensing for all Private Detective Agencies that have been working in India. It would be required for such offices to take the License from the Regulation Board which is set up at Central or State level.
2. Qualification for Private Detectives-The Bill has proposed for the qualifications of Private Detectives hired by such Private Detective Agencies in India. The Qualification of Private Detectives are:
- They must be citizens of India,
- They must have attained at least 21 years of age,
- Some Specified requirements regarding,
- Physical Fitness,
3. Register by Agency- The Bill provides for maintenance of a register by The Private Detective Agencies which shall contain following particulars:
- Address of
- Private Detectives hired by the Agency;
- Their Staff Members;
- Their Clients,
- The Salary payable to the private Detectives and their Staff;
- The cases which are undertaken by them for their clients.
4. Punishment for Private Detectives –The Bill provides the punishment for the Private Detective, hired by Private Detective Agencies. Where any Private detective violates any person’s Right to Privacy and personal freedom, then he shall be held liable and punishable with:
5. Barred from Investigating the Matters related to State Affairs – The proposed bill limits the scope of Activity of Private detective Agencies to the non-government sector, As they cannot investigate the matters relating to State Affairs or interfere with the Matters dealt by RAW, CBI that comes within the ambit of State Agencies.
Which Activities do not come within the Scope of Private Detective Agencies under the Proposed Bill, 2007?
As per the Bill, the Private Detective Agencies cannot deal or investigate the following Matters-
- Matters Relating to Anti-Counterfeiting Security;
- Any kind of Marital Discords for which the complaint is pending before the police;
- Doing any activity which infringes the Right to privacy of a person;
- Matters Relating to Technology;
- Matters Relating to Theft of Valuable Assets;
- Matters Relating to Environment;
- Matters Relating to Finance and Accounts;
- Matters Relating to forensic, Fingerprints analysis;
- Matters Relating to Insurance claims of government Companies;
- Matters Relating to Intellectual Property Rights;
- Matters that are pending in Courts;
- Matters Relating to Archeological Records;
- Matters Relating to White Collar Crimes.
If private detective agencies are not navigated through codified laws then gradually they will not only violate our right to privacy but also various civil and criminal laws. There is no law to regulate the conduct of the private detective agencies because of which the limits of private detective agencies and its private detectives have not been defined, therefore it results into the number of fake private detective agencies, because of lack of any law to regulate these agencies they are operating in India without license. Therefore, they have lost their credibility in the eyes of the general public as there is no set form of rules or regulation which can define their scope of power, functions etc. These private detective agencies can make an exceptionally productive contribution in our legal system if some law is made to manage their activities. As they utilize creative and cutting edge innovation in directing the investigation, therefore it can be of great help for the parties, lawyers, and judges in resolving the case. But because of the absence of any law, such Agencies more of being used are misused to a very great extent by fooling the innocent people. Therefore, the government should immediately pass the proposed Bill, 2007 in order to regulate the conduct of these Agencies so that they can develop and can make some fruitful contributions to our Legal System.