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15 Feb 2017

Peeping Toms, beware! Cops may catch you

Amita Ghose | Feb 14, 2017: For all the harassed, hemmed-in, ham strung loverboys and girls, here's some good news on Valentine's Day . In case you're one of those who's given to severe bouts of public display of affection, leading to some serious necking, pecking or smooching, your friendly , neighbourhood policeman is there to guard your privacy . We've learnt that the police are on the watch to nab peeping Toms and mischiefmakers who are out to mar the privacy of couples at popular love spots like Victoria Memorial, Rabindra Sarovar or the Prinsep Ghat area.According to officers, such disturbing elements will be slapped with a `look case' (Calcutta Police Act section 68). In case they are found clicking pictures or videos of the couples' private moments, the matter may be escalated for more stringent action.
TIME TO ENSURE COUPLES' PRIVACY

The police crackdown will benefit those like Suresh Prasad, a Howrah Maidan resident, on V-Day . "She had just closed her eyes and I got close to kiss her when I found a moron peeping from behind a tree. He was also trying to capture our kissing footage on his phone," said Suresh, angrily describing the agony of his aborted V-Day kiss at Victoria Memorial. "My girlfriend wanted to leave the place immediately . Since then, I've not been able to bring her back. The V-Day kiss also remains pending," he sighed.

On-duty police officers around Victoria said such incidents were very common. "If you are an adult and are kissing your partner with her consent irrespective of the place, be it Victoria, Maidan or anywhere else, this isn't illegal.Kissing in public, holding hands or hugging are not crimes and no couple can be slapped with a case for this," said an officer who was ear lier posted at Hastings Police Station, which has Victoria Memorial under its jurisdiction.

"Kissing in public can't be called indecent but to an adult person it is definitely indecent that someone else is watching them kiss. And in places like an Elliot Parkor Victoria, there is no dearth of such people.Ekjon dariye porle, doshjon dariye jaye kiss dekhte," added the officer.

MENACE UNLIMITED CT

caught up with Sabuj Sarkar and his girlfriend Priyanka Purkait near Victoria a day before V-Day . When we told them about the look case provision, they told us about the harassment they face regularly , "This is a major problem for couples. If we sit on a bench, some random guy will plonk himself next to us and eavesdrop, or keep staring. I've never confronted anyone as I didn't want any trouble when my girlfriend is with me."

Another senior crime branch officer gave us a more serious take on the issue."Uploading pictures and videos on social media is no big deal these days. The aim of the `look case' is to eliminate unwanted sit uations where innocent individuals are photographed inappropriately and harassed on Facebook or YouTube. This is a punishable crime."

YOUNGSTERS STILL FEARFUL

While the police are making all the right noises about guarding the privacy of cou ples, not everyone can trust them. Auritra Moitra (name changed on request), an IT professional from Keshtopur, is one of them. "I once caught a guy clicking a picture of my girlfriend and took him to the duty officer in Victoria. But the officer only warned the guy and gave me a long lecture on why I should not kiss my girl friend in public if I respect her. He went on to tell me that if I should take a room on rent if I want to get intimate. We were completely disgusted."

Arijit Bhusan Bagchi, a criminal lawyer at Calcutta High Court, told us that an expression of love, especially kissing, is not an offence on Valentine's Day or other day . "There is no specific penal provision for this in the Indian Penal Code if the act is between consensual adults. Sometimes police get proactive and lodge a case under section 294 of IPC for obscene acts, but that is a grey area as what qualifies as obscene is not elaborated."


Calcutta Police Act section 68 says whoever is found drunk and is incapable of taking care of himself, or is guilty of any indecent behaviour, in any public street or thoroughfare, or in any place of public amusement or resort, shall be liable, on summary conviction before a Magistrate


Article 21 of the Constitution of India which deals with the `right to life and liberty'-given that Article 21 lies in Part III of the Constitution, the right to privacy is effectively a fundamental right


Section 66E Information Technology Act, 2000: Punishment for violation of privacy -Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.

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