PRIVATE DETECTIVE AGENCIES (REGULATION) BILL, 2007
After examination of the issues raised by the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC), it has been decided that a Committee in Ministry of Home Affairs under the Chairpersonship of Secretary (Border Management) may go into the issues raised by the DRPSC. The Committee constituted under the Chairpersonship of Secretary (BM) has finalised a draft Report, which has been circulated to the States for their views/comments.
Some of the essential features of the Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2007, are as hereunder:
Highlights of the Bill
- The Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2007 provides for the regulation and licensing of private detective agencies operating in India.
- Every private detective agency will require a licence to operate. Licences shall be granted by regulation boards established at the central and state level.
- A private detective agency may employ a person as an agent if he is an Indian citizen, of 21 years of age or above, and satisfies certain specified requirements about his antecedents, training and physical fitness.
- An agency must maintain a register with specified information, including the names and addresses of its managers, staff and clients. It shall also record the salaries of its staff, and the gist of the work it has undertaken for a client.
- Any agent violating a person’s right to privacy and freedom shall be punishable with imprisonment and a fine.
Key Issues and Analysis
- A private detective agency is defined as one with “a valid licence”. This makes the Bill inapplicable to those operating without a licence.
- The breaching of an individual’s right to privacy has been made punishable. Previously the right to privacy in India has only been defined with regard to state surveillance.
- In a number of other countries that regulate private detectives, it is the agent that is licensed rather than the agency.
- The Bill specifies that a private detective must be an Indian citizen. Such a requirement does not exist in similar legislation in several other countries.
- A person who is not an Indian citizen may not hold a majority shareholding in an agency. Many other sectors in India do not have this requirement. The Bill also does not explicitly prevent a majority of shares being held jointly by foreigners.
- Under certain circumstances, the government may cancel licences without consulting the licensing boards. This differs from the practice in several other countries.
PART A: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL
- Over the last decade there has been a strong growth among private security and detective agencies, with more than 500,000 people being employed for the purpose, primarily by private security agencies.
- There was no existing legislation to specifically regulate their work until the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005 was passed. The Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2007 is based on that Act.
- It provides for the regulation of private detective agencies through the granting of licences and specifies the parameters within which the agencies shall operate within the country, as well as the penalties for offences related to their work. The Bill provides for the establishment of regulating agencies at both the central and the state levels.
Licensing of Private Detective Agencies
- Only persons who have obtained a licence under the Act may carry on, or commence, private detective agency work in India. Any person who has already begun such work before the commencement of the Act may continue to do so for a further 180 days, if he has applied for a licence within that time period, till the disposal of his application.
- An application must be made to the State Private Detective Regulatory Board to operate in one state, or to the Central Private Detective Regulatory Board to operate in two or more states. The Central Board shall be set up by the central government, and shall have between five and seven members. A State Board shall be set up by the state government, and have between three and five members. In addition to government officials, the Boards may have industry representatives.
Private Detective Agencies and Agents
- A licence to operate a private detective agency shall not be considered from a person who has been (a) convicted by a competent court for an offence whose punishment is imprisonment for at least two years; (b) keeping links with any organisation or association banned under any law for activities prejudicial to national security or public order, or if there is any information that the person has indulged in activities prejudicial to national security or public order; (c) dismissed from government service; or (d) found violating certain provisions of the Act which deal with carrying a photo identity card and confidentiality of information collected.
- Every private detective agency shall display a copy of its licence conspicuously in its place of business. It shall maintain a register with the (a) names and addresses of those managing the agency; (b) the names addresses, photographs and salaries of its agents; (c) the names and addresses of the persons it has provided services and the “gist” of those services; and (d) any other prescribed information.
- An agency may only employ a person to work as a private detective agent who (a) is an Indian citizen; (b) is 21 years of age or older; (c) has passed aprescribed training course, and (d) meets certain prescribed standards of character antecedents and physical fitness. No person may be employed as a private detective if he has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of two years or more for an offence. Every agent shall carry a photo identity card issued by the agency when he is at work.
Cancellation of Licence
The Central or State Board may cancel a licence under certain conditions. The appeal against a cancellation may be made within 60 days of the cancellation order. The central or state government may also suspend or revoke a licence on the grounds of national security or public order. All orders for cancellation need to be in writing, after giving the concerned person a hearing.
Offences and Penalties
An agent shall provide information about an investigation for a lawful purpose only to the client or his recognised representative. Any person who operates without a licence shall be liable to a penalty up to Rs 2 lakh by the Board in the first instance. Persistent offence shall be punished by imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. Any agent violating a person’s right to privacy and freedom shall be punishable with imprisonment for up to six months and a fine up to Rs 50,000.