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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Hasan Khurshid

In today's scenario, the crime culture has become a global phenomenon. This includes organized crimes; racketeering and the syndicated crimes. To work out the causation of crime many theories were formed and subsequently replaced. In 1950s, 'holistic' approach was emphasized, in which crime was viewed in total context, where infinity of variables like individual's physical constitution, his total social experience of life, his mental and emotional state at the time of committing crime, his reaction to the situation, etc. were considered responsible for crime. However, criminologists dealing with the causal factors of crime prescribed 'biogenic', 'psychogenic' and 'sociogenic' approaches.

Whatever may be the causes of crimes, the society has from time to time made laws to prevent the crimes, appointed judges to award punishment for the crimes committed.

Today new forms of crime, i.e. 'Terrorism' and 'Naxalism' have become a serious threat globally. No space ranging from vital installations like the Parliament House to shopping malls, residential complex, railway stations, hotels or corporate houses, is safe from the unpredictable terrorists' or insurgents' attacks.

In a major terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, we experienced that our security forces were not capable of preventing the act of terrorism with desired level of professionalism. There was no proper coordination between the intelligence agencies and those responsible for physical security. There was inadequate interaction between law enforcement agencies and management of hotels.

However, today we may be in a better position of combating the terrorists than we were on 26/11/08. Many a steps have been initiated for strengthening our prevention capabilities. The Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) has been activated to bring officers from almost a dozen agencies to hold meetings to analyse and disseminate information. The Government also decided to set-up a National Intelligence Grid, which is an information exchange mechanism aimed to gather data from numerous sources and funnel it through powerful analytics to predict trends.

Our security problems are, however, complex. We have seen that in the past, besides vital government installations, public places like hotels and shopping centres have been targeted which are guarded by the incompetent personnel of private security agencies, who possess no capability, skill or training to prevent or counter the deadly attacks.

So far the role of private guards was limited to protect the assets, people and information of the establishments. Their job description included: to preclude unauthorized access; prevention and detection of any intrusion, theft, damage, misuse or destruction of property, etc. However, today with the diminishing ethical values; increasing electronic and cyber crime; Naxalism / terrorism- cult of violence and bomb threats, etc. the degree and nature of threat has changed. Therefore, a renaissance of private security industry is the need of the hour and the private combatants of violence have to brass themselves with the high degree of training and preparedness. For acquiring this excellence the long arm of the law can only bring wonders.

After 26/11 attack, within a short period, the Government of India thought prudently to use the force of law to tackle and deter terrorism. The Government first restructured the anti-terrorism legal framework by amending The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, to empower the terror combating agencies to contain the terrorist activities with an iron fist. The second law led to the creation of a specialized body of investigators named, the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The agency has been designed with the single-point objective of investigating cases pertaining to terrorists, such as Headley and Rana, who had been caught by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sometime back.

But what needs to be done is that the large organization of private security consisting around 55 lakh personnel across the country should be fine tuned through the implementation of The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005 (PSAR), which besides regulating it provides for training and skill upgradation. Although the Act was passed in the year 2005, but barring 13 States, it has not yet been implemented in the rest of the country.

In October 2009, Haryana became the 13 th State to adopt the PSAR Act, and on the basis of this Act has formed Haryana Security Agencies Rules, 2009. The States where the Act has been adopted include: Maharashtra, Sikkim, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Assam and the Union Territories of Chandigarh and Goa.

However, the industry leaders lament that the PSAR Act has been poorly and hastily drafted. According to Jasbir Wasu, Regional Vice President (North) of Asian Professional Security Association (APSA) the Act is full of arbitrary and discriminatory clauses which is virtually a Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of private security providers. The main cause of concern for the industry is the process of cancellation of the licence of the agency under Section 13 of the PSAR Act, 2005, which provides that if any single person of the agency is found guilty of not following the code of conduct, the licence will be cancelled.

Kunwar Vikram Singh, the Chairman of the apex bodies of security providers and detectives, Central Association of Private Security Industry (CAPSI) and Association of Private Detectives & Investigators (APDI) informed that he, on behalf of the Association, had given a proposal two years ago to the then Home Minister Shivraj Patil to enlist 55 lakh security personnel across the country as their agents who will keep a watch on anti-national elements while doing their duty and simultaneously act as eyes and ears of the government. The nodal officer of private agencies will collect the vital information from grass-root level or State level and will pass on the same to the nodal officer of the government and this service will be free of cost. But such an implementation still awaits approval.

Another allied aspect of security is Private Investigations, which, too, need a control mechanism. A Private Detective, Mahesh Sharma informed that the Government has already prepared The Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2007, which was given to a Select Committee for review. According to Mahesh Sharma, such a law, if passed, will give them recognition and strength to operate with dignity. Sharma also desired that the law should be comprehensive and must clearly specify the limits of invasion to privacy.

Reacting on the subject, a young advocate and commentator on contemporary politico-legal issues, Hemant Kumar pinpoints the lackadaisical approach of the ruling dispensation in granting statutory sanction to working of private detective agencies in the country. He reveals that the UPA Government in its previous tenure tabled the much-hyped Private Detective Agencies (Regulation) Bill in Rajya Sabha in August, 2007 after which it was referred to the then Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs headed by Sushma Swaraj for detailed examination and report. The aforesaid Committee which submitted its report in February, 2009 slammed Union Home Ministry for its replies relating to queries raised by it terming them as given in a perfunctory manner on important policy issues.

The Committee wanted the Ministry to have a re-look at the provisions of the Bill in the light of the issues raised and suggestions made by it. Countries such as Canada and Singapore have a common law to govern both the private security and private detective ser vices. Though in India, a separate law has been enacted for private security agencies in 2005, the law for private detective agencies is yet to see light of day for the reasons best known to it.

In the year 2006, Delhi Police arrested one private detective Bhupinder Singh in Amar Singh phone-tapping case, which had put in focus the issue of private detectives and the extent of their activities. Yet, there are media organizations which, too, have performed detective-like sting operations, such as Bangaru Laxman's case by Tehelka and cash for question scam case.

Clarifying this aspect, V.M. Pandit, retired officer from Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said, "There have been numerous court rulings on this issue, where the matter has been clarified that only the sting operations that are in national and public interest can be carried out and not for commercial purposes." V.M. Pandit also clarified that snooping for corporate groups, peeping into the personal lives of the individuals, industrial espionage, corporate rivalry, are unethical.

Pandit claims that in a way he is assisting the legal fraternity and the law enforcement agencies by carrying out scientific investigations such as corporate investigations, enforcement of intellectual property rights, financial investigations, forensic examination, crime scene analysis, polygraph, DNA analysis and questioned documents etc. In addition to this Pandit is running a training college for young aspirants.

Another bright side of the private security agencies is their expertise of introducing modern gadgetry in the market which is a key weapon against all sorts of crimes including insurgency and terrorism. This includes high resolution CCTV cameras, ultra-sensitive vehicle scanner, bomb disposal equipment, fire-fighting equipment etc. but whatever may be the expertise of these agencies, they must operate in a protective legal framework.

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