Our success as private investigators in India hinges a lot on being in possession of the knowledge of the laws that apply to our profession. While there is a lot more concerning laws that apply to private investigations in India, those are beyond the limited scope of this article. Let me give you, dear reader a synopsis of the specific laws that affect us and our business so that if you are faced with a predicament where you might require our services, it might make it easier for you to make a decision about the matter and whether or not to get professionals to help you resolve the issue to a definite conclusion.
Understanding the Law
Laws that apply to investigative law in India are widely disparate. In this article I will talk about the basic laws to which both law enforcement investigators as well as private investigators must adhere to. Some of them do not apply directly to our work as a private investigator, though many out of them do. Knowing and applying these laws in our sphere of work, I believe marks us out as serious professionals and separates us from the average private detective on the street or the ones you find on classifieds websites. Our work ethics and our deep knowledge of our craft coupled with our in-depth knowledge of the law of the land garners us respect from both the public and the law enforcement community.
One does not need to be an attorney or a police officer to be a good private detective but you do need to know something about the laws that govern law enforcement as well as laws that apply to our profession. One must know where our responsibility ends and law enforcement authority begins. Never must it enter a private investigator’s mind that he / she is a law enforcement officer. In fact impersonating a law official is a criminal offense punishable by law.
Crime Scene Investigations
An individual client or a lawyer will often hire us in cases which necessitates the search of a crime scene. The crime scene is the domain of law enforcement and police officers do not appreciate hot shot private detectives interfering with their work. So we always tread cautiously and fully co-operate with the local law officials on such cases. Acting within our boundaries and behaving responsibly helps us develop respectful working relationships with police officers which eventually helps us greatly in solving a case or reach a definite conclusion thereby ensuring that our clients or lawyers are satisfied.
Pretexting the Law
What is Pretexting
Pretexting is a formidable tool in the private investigator‘s tool box but it is quite tricky and must be applied with prudence and judgement. Pretexting can be defined as:
a. Ostensible or professed purpose or an excuse.
b. An effort or strategy intended to conceal something.
In other words, pretexting is lying but not lying for personal gain or with the intention to harm another person. It can be misused but when properly executed, courts have upheld it’s use.
Lying for any reason is a moral issue and in certain cases it can be a crime. For some people, lying is just a way of getting what one desires. While others who abide by strict moral values and principles or those who are just plain uncomfortable with lying will never misrepresent anything in any way. The criminal justice system has struggled for years with the boundaries beyond which deception must be allowed to go and the courts still grapple with the issue from time to time.
The undercover work that we private detectives have to do entails a lot of lying! Right from the false name and credentials that we have to use to obtain information to the unmarked car that that we use that disguises our true identity. Yet one must remember that all this is not done for personal gain. While some people may argue against pretexting, the courts all over the world have accepted it as a vital part of an investigator’s hunt to uncover the truth and have ruled it permissible if it has been done without coercing innocent people into false confessions.
Ethics Vs Real World Practicality
There is a definite problem that exists in society in the need to balance the reality of criminal behaviour with laws that protect the rights of all citizens. The criminal who rapes, loots and kills does not abide by any laws and all of them prey and thrive on the average citizen’s uninformed idealism and innocence about how criminals think and their behaviour. Due to this, the law and by extension the private investigator may feel constrained by laws that protect the rights of a criminal who cares nothing for the rights and the safety of others. Yet, commitment to the rule of law is enshrined in the constitution of free and democratic societies like India, the United States and others. In such countries, the rule of law is defined as universally accepted and defined and governs every citizen of the country. This in effect separates India from totalitarian regimes like the ones that still exist in countries like North Korea and other countries.
Because of the high stakes involved, abiding by the law must remain the Private Investigator’s chief concern at all times yet balancing the protection of the public at all times. Considering the real world challenge that this dilemma poses and considering the utmost objective – the need to provide protection – the Supreme Court of India has recognized this challenge in the past. In order to balance the scale between the criminals and the law abiding citizens of the country, it has given permission to allow certain behaviour that bypasses the hard-line rule of the law and allows the upholders of the law and those given responsibility for public protection to push the truth slightly when seeking information from a suspect. The line is very thin however and must be treated with fine judgement and strategy.
A Fine Balance
In achieving this kind of a balancing act, should the lie result in solving a case, the cost of lying is weighed against the foreseeable benefits to the public and the victim of the crime. When placed on a scale, the moral evil of the lie (if performed correctly) is not perceived as heavy when weighed against the cost of achieving justice for the crime victim and the protection of the public by removal of the offender – especially a violent one – from society. Unfortunately this isnt the only situation in which legal ideals and real world practically face off against each other. Some of the challenges are:
1. The presumption of innocence is challenged by the knowledge that many of the so-called innocent people are actually guilty.
2. The ideal to protect each other’s civil rights is challenged by the fact that some have abused and will continue to abuse the civil rights of others. When offender and victim rights conflict, the moot question of whose rights are more important casts a shadow on the ideal.
3. The ideal of the right to bail is challenged by the knowledge of the violent potential of many offenders should they be released.
4. The ideal of the police refraining from the use of physical force is challenged by suspects who refuse to be taken into custody without a fight and by the need of a police officer to protect himself and the public.
There are many more challenges that exist within the law, but this short list is intended to give you some of the idea of finding a balance that we private investigators have to repeatedly content with in the day to day duties of our job. It also illustrates the fact that separate arms of the law sometimes line up on different sides of these challenges. For example, part of the defense counsel’s jobs is obtaining bail for his / her client. The police officer’s or detective’s job is to apprehend and put the defendant in jail until trial. The detective or police officer may want bail to be denied to a violent defendant. The judge must look at both sides of the coin and herein lies the challenge: choosing between bail rights of the defendant vs. the rights of protection for the victim and the public at large.
Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best detective agencies in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough pre marital investigation services among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.
Fingerprinting Your Child
In investigations for finding missing children, we often have to discover that the fingerprints of the missing child have not been saved. One has to remember that fingerprinting is not for only finding and identifying a body but also for identifying live children. A lot of people think that fingerprinting may be an overreaction on the part of parents who are being overtly paranoid about their child’s safety. As always what defines paranoia about one’s and one’s family safety differs from person to person. The show ‘Doomsday Preppers‘ that is aired on the Discovery HD channel is a good example of the diverse personalities of people. In every episode of the show, a different set of hyper-paranoid American citizens are featured – these are men and women (mostly men) preparing for future disaster scenarios by secretly stocking themselves with rations consisting of food, water and ammunition apart from training in the use of firepower and other basic survival skills in the wild a la Tarzan. All this preparation happens in secret getaways, underground bunkers and hideouts where they regularly practice self-defense and survival skills, should there ever be a breakdown in law and order and scarcity of food and water and vandalism rules the day. While most people would consider them abnormal and ‘crazy’, these people definitely do not consider themselves crazy. On the contrary, they feel that they are highly intelligent in being proactive enough for preparing for an unseen disaster which would leave most of the population groping in the dark. In a highly dense and unpredictable world, where anything can go wrong, these people are taking steps in times of peace and normalcy to prepare for worst case scenarios when their preparation would save their own lives as well as their family’s. Of course, not everyone feels the need or even has the time, money or resources to invest in such large scale doomsday prepping. But there are lots of small proactive steps that one can take to ward off chances of harm coming to one’s family. Installing state-of-the-art security systems in one’s residential premises is one of them. The steps detailed in this article can also be viewed as small but important efforts taken to enhance the safety of your children.
So if you fall in the above bracket of people who are anxious about their family’s safety and often harbour a thought about how the future may turn out and if you are highly protective of your near and dear ones, you must fingerprint your child at various times of her / his growth. The small amount of effort that goes in fingerprinting a child may provide huge gains if the unthinkable ever happens and your child goes missing.
If a child is abducted before he / she can learn to talk, fingerprints can prove to be a vital lead for identifying him / her later especially if he / she does not have any birthmarks or unique identifiers. Not every parent wants to have a child fingerprinted thought since they they dont want to tempt fate out of superstition or unease. Some parents don’t even want to think about the possibility of their child being abducted or kidnapped. But parents like the ones shown on ‘Doomsday Preppers‘ can and will fingerprint their child and carefully document the same in digital formats.
Age Progression Photos
Oftentimes a child has been missing for years. In such cases when a hunt for a child who has now become a teenager re-opens, age-enhancement photos can help greatly. Pictures taken for age-enhancement should show the full face at a specified distance from the camera and in front of a specified background usually solid blue. Of course you can also take casual photos of your child seated on a sofa or elsewhere but the specifications listed above provides the best possible outcome in the case of an investigation. If age progression photos haven’t been taken by a parent at regular intervals, then trained artists can be called in do the job from the last photo available. But the artist would have been able to do a better job of the child’s present appearance if the latest photo of the child is available as close to her present age as possible which is only possible if the parents have taken proactively taken age-progression photos every six months or so. Age progression softwares can also be used to help bridge the gap in appearance of a child who has been missing for years and her present changed appearance. There have been cases where flyers of age-enhanced photos have led to children being recognized and returned to joyful families.
If you’d like to use some age progression softwares, get your hands on FACES, FACETTE, FaceID and SuspectID which are used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world. APRIL – an age progression software available online for progressing your own photos can also do the job quite well. However do remember, that precise age-progression-deciphering is an art. Trained artists have deep knowledge in the manner in which skin, bone, hair and other features change over time.
Storing Your Child’s DNA
Parents who are overtly worried about their child’s safety have the option of storing their child’s DNA in the event that the worst ever happens. There are many sources for DNA collection. Check this link here for one such DNA bank – http://www.dnares.in/human-dna-data-bank-services-in-india.php. DNA collection and storing is safe and easy and does not cost a lot vis-a-vis the benefits that it imparts later on should your child ever go missing.
The above 3 preventive steps that I have mentioned are the easiest and cheapest ways to become proactive about your child’s safety and can be implemented immediately. Otherwise, if you happen to have the personality of a ‘Doomsday Prepper‘, what I have detailed above is just the tip of the iceberg! There are plenty of illuminating articles and information available on child safety on the internet and in books that can keep you engaged and informed. Stay safe!
Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best infildety investigator in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough husband wife cheating investigations among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high!