Installation of CCTV cameras in spas and massage parlours, on the basis of apprehension, is ”intrusion into the rights of individuals” and would amount to infringing their bodily autonomy, the Madras High Court has observed.
Justice G R Swaminathan of the Madurai bench of the HC made the observation on Tuesday while disposing of a petition from a spa owner seeking direction to the Tiruchirappalli police to issue a no objection certificate. He also wanted this Court to restrain the police from interfering with the running of the spa.
The judge noted installing CCTV cameras was also a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
”In the first place, unless a legislature mandates by law that CCTV cameras should be installed in certain place, it cannot be done. It is violation of Art 21 (on privacy),” he said.
”The installation of CCTV equipment inside premises such as a spa would unquestionably infract upon a person’s bodily autonomy. These are inviolable spaces where the prying eye of the state simply cannot be allowed to enter,” the judge added.
A decision to install a CCTV camera which has a bearing on a person’s privacy requires the most careful of considerations, requiring the government to apply its mind prudently and determine what manner of regulations ought to be put in place for its proper use, the court said. ”Suspicion that immoral activities are taking place in massage centres cannot be reason enough to intrude into an individual’s right to relax for it intrinsically is part and parcel of his fundamental right to privacy,” the judged observed.
The government notification, the judge said, contemplated cameras at the entry and exit points without any prejudice to the individual’s privacy.
He also disagreed with another judge’s order while hearing a writ petition filed for obtaining the ”No objection Certificate”, from police where the latter had directed the installation of functional CCTV cameras in all spas, massage therapy centres in the state.