Can a couple kissing in an office be considered engaging in a private act? Can they claim breach of privacy when observed by anyone under CCTV surveillance? These are some of the questions the Gujarat high court is grappling with regard to a recent legal case.
As per a report in TOI, the case involves a Venezuelan engineer, who was working with Tamboli Castings Ltd in Bhavnagar. On January 19, she filed an FIR with Vartej police against the company’s director Vaibhav Tamboli and his father Bipin Tamboli. They were accused of watching and leaking the clip of her allegedly kissing a colleague who is also a Tamboli family member named Mehul Tamboli. He had a fallout with the rest of the Tamboli family after he allegedly stabbed his brother Vaibhav during last year’s company board meeting.
Vaibhav and Bipin Tamboli were booked under provisions of the Information Technology Act for leaking the footage and IPC Section 354-C for voyeurism. The father-son duo then approached the HC for quashing their FIR. Their advocates Mahesh Jethmalani and Ajay Choksi submitted that a person cannot expect that s/he will not be observed in an office with CCTV cameras. They further argued that kissing does not fall under the definition of a ‘private act’ as stated in Explanation-1 of IPC Section 354-C.
Moreover, the lawyers claimed that the Venezuelan engineer is on good terms with Mehul Tamboli and has maliciously filed the FIR to counterblast the FIR against him for stabbing his brother.
The HC ordered the cops to stay the arrest and framed 3 questions for determination.
1. Whether the gesture of kissing in the office is a ‘private act’ as per the IPC, and whether the person involved can expect not to be observed when in an office space with CCTV surveillance.
2. Whether watching the couple engaging in the said act under CCTV cover an offense of voyeurism.
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3. Whether the allegedly circulated footage and images captured by the CCTV camera contain sexually explicit material having a lascivious appeal.
The HC has admitted the petition and seeks the government’s reply on the same by July 20.
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