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Law to put pvt eyes on leash

In an apparent fallout of the phone-tapping incident involving the Samajwadi Party?s Amar Singh, the government has decided to bring in a law to regulate private detective agencies.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 01:51 IST

In an apparent fallout of the phone-tapping incident involving the Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh, the government has decided to bring in a law to regulate private detective agencies. The Home Ministry will introduce a bill to this effect in Parliament’s budget session.

Among the components of the bill will be the various areas where the detective agencies will be allowed to operate.

Sources said these agencies would not be permitted to get involved in industrial espionage or gather information about rivals in the corporate sector. “Similarly, there’ll be clearly defined areas where the detective agencies can function,” said an official.

Private detectives will be allowed to carry out sting operations but these will have to be in “public interest”. Sources said stings operations which violated the privacy of an individual would not be allowed.

Senior officials said since the government could not formulate guidelines on how a detective agency should conduct a sting operation, there would be stringent norms protecting an individual's right to privacy. "The penal provision for violating the privacy guidelines by detective agencies will be very stringent and the police will be required to take immediate action in such cases," said an official.

The bill will also list the circumstances in which audio and video equipment can be used by the detective agencies.

To prevent the misuse of sting operations, these agencies will have to sign a confidentiality clause with every client and honour it. Any breach for monetary gains or other purposes will invite stringent punishment.

Sources said the Home Ministry had already begun preparing for the bill and was talking with the Law Ministry, the Bureau of Police Research and Development and other agencies. It is also studying similar laws in Britain and US.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 01:51 IST