The Madras High Court turned down the police's request to set up CCTV cameras in all places of two clubs/recreation hubs to keep an eye on sports betting and other illegal activities. Judge Krishnan Ramasamy noted that passing such directions would be a violation of the right to privacy of all other guests to the clubs. The Court, however, ordered the club owners to place Surveillance cameras at the entrance and exit of the nightclubs, as well as in places where customers play games, to enable the police to keep an eye on possible criminal actions. The Court issued these comments in response to petitions filed by bar owners in Kanchipuram and Chennai, asking the court to stop the police from entering the premises and conducting searches on the pretence of having information that club members were engaging in illicit gaming operations.
The applicants claimed that the cop's actions were in breach of people' rights under Section 5 of the Tamil Nadu Gambling Act, 1930. A court's magistrate or any police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or Assistant Commissioner of Police who has "reason to believe" that any location is being used as a gambling house can give power to any policeman, not below the rank of Sub-Inspector to enter, search, and arrest all persons found therein, according to this provision. When the case was first brought before the Court, it was stated that the members would be inconvenienced by the police's frequent presence in the club. To achieve a balance, the Court proposed installing a CCTV camera at the club's entrance that would not intrude on club members' privacy.
The Director-General of Police (DGP) was impleaded as a party to the proceedings and was directed to produce a report by the Court. The DGP's assessment recommended that CCTV cameras be put in all locations, including the playing field and hallways, except for the toilets, where gambling is committed. The petitioners stated that the police cannot be allowed to undertake surveillance on whole activities in clubs/recreation centres based solely on the suspicion that gambling activities may take place. They stated that this violates club/recreation centre members' right to privacy. It did, however, pass the following requirements, among them:
• Petitioners must install CCTV cameras at the club's entrance and departure points, as well as locations where members play games.
• The petitioner will not allow members to play stakes games within the club.
• Police will make every effort to avoid entering the club premises needlessly, causing trouble to other members, and will get all information using the facts provided in the CCTV footage.
• Police must not seek to get access to film that infringes on the privacy of other members who are unrelated or uninvolved.
• If the member(s) of the clubs are discovered to have engaged in any criminal or immoral actions, this order will not prevent the jurisdictional police from invoking the relevant provisions of the Act and taking appropriate legal action.
• No police officer may come into a club, raid it, and search it without grounds to assume it is being operated as a gambling establishment.
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