The Bombay High Court has held that installing CCTV cameras outside somebody’s flat or residence without their consent in order to monitor their daily movement is an invasion of privacy.
Justice SJ Kathawalla was hearing a notice of motion in a suit filed by Farhad Ginwalla along with his son and two daughters seeking urgent interim relief from Farhad’s third daughter Zenobia, who along with her husband is the defendant in the suit.
Case Background
Farhad’s wife Pervin was the owner of a building in Colaba named Rutton Manor. The entire family lived in the said building, but after Pervin’s death, both Farhad and daughter Zenobia became co-landlords.
It was the plaintiff’s contention that Zenobia and her husband, in the first week of April, placed CCTV cameras over the main entrance doors to Flat Nos. 5 and 6 on the second floor of Rutton Manor in which Farhan’s son Rustom and other daughter are residing, without their consent, and were monitoring who is coming in and out of those flats, thereby invading the plaintiff’s privacy. Also, Zenobia has allegedly been taking pictures and videos of plaintiffs and inside their homes without their consent constantly trying to annoy them.
It was also alleged that the defendants were constantly trying to intimidate Farhad, who is a senior citizen and other members of his family. Zenobia is said to have locked the access door to the common terrace of the building Rutton Manor, thereby depriving the plaintiff’s access to the common terrace and the water tanks and lift room which are located on the terrace.
When the court sought an explanation from Zenobia for such behaviour, she said she was doing it as the plaintiffs were in breach of an order of Small Causes Court as they had inducted third parties as tenants into Rutton Manor.
This Court therefore made it clear to the Advocate for the Defendants that the Court has no doubt that Defendant No. 1 is conducting herself in this manner only to annoy and disturb the Plaintiffs and their guests, and the Court cannot allow her to do so,”  the court said.
Accordingly, defendants gave an undertaking stating that they would not take any more photos or videos of the plaintiffs. The court accepted the undertaking.
The court made it clear to the defendants that they were free to install CCTV cameras on their own floor only, where they reside. The court also directed the defendants to allow plaintiffs the access to the common roof and in case of non-compliance, directed the lawyers to intervene and resolve the problem.