04/04/2015 6:59 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Fabindia Apologises To Smriti Irani But Says No Hidden Camera In Trial Room

Denis O'Donovan/Flickr

MUMBAI — A day after Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani said she spotted a hidden camera in the changing room of Fabindia's store at Candolim in Goa, the company today said "there were no hidden cameras anywhere in the store, including the trial rooms."

"At the outset, we would like to convey our apologies to the Honourable Minister Smriti Irani for the inconvenience that has been inadvertently caused.

"The camera in question at Condolim-Goa store was a part of the surveillance system at the store and was installed in the shopping area. There were no hidden cameras anywhere in the store, including the trial rooms. These cameras are in full public view and the fact that surveillance cameras are installed is prominently displayed in all the stores," Fabindia said in a statement.

The company claimed that installation of CCTV camera is a standard retail practice employed across the industry as a surveillance and security measure and that several other stores have been checked since yesterday by the police and no imperfections in placement of cameras have been found.

"Fabindia is a women-centric organisation and 70 per cent of its workforce is women across the country and the globe. We highly value the dignity of women and stand for it. Customer is supreme for us.

"All of us, including our staff and store manager, are co-operating fully with the police in every way possible so that the matter is investigated and reaches its logical conclusion. If mischief has been done by anyone, such person should be punished as per law," it added.

Fabindia said the company has also appointed an investigation team comprising three senior women executives/women of repute to look into the matter.

Irani, who was on a visit to Goa, said she came across the camera in the changing room when she was in the showroom to buy clothes yesterday.

Employees Granted Bail

All four employees of the Fabindia outlet who were arrested yesterday were today granted bail by a local court here.

Judicial Magistrate Dwaja Patkar, before whom the four were produced after their arrest last evening, granted them bail and rejected Goa Crime branch's application for their custody.

The Magistrate, in her order, said, "no grounds were made by Investigating Officer for custodial interrogation of the accused". She also said the ground for their arrest has not been specified by the investigating agency.

The accused - Paresh Bhagat, Raju Payanche, Prashant Naik and Karim Lakhani - were arrested hours after Irani raised an alarm.

The arrests were made on the basis of a complaint filed by a Goa BJP legislator. They were booked under IPC Sections 354 C (voyeurism), 509 (intrusion into privacy) and also IT Act's Section 66E (capturing, publishing image of private area of any person without his/her consent).

In a related development, the store manager has moved Goa Court for anticipatory bail. The manager, who is not traceable, filed the application through her lawyer.

During arguments in the court, the Investigating Officer said it has been revealed during initial probe that the captured images were viewed by the accused.

"Custodial interrogation of the accused is required to know whether those images had been disseminated via e-mail, WhatsApp, Facebook or any other means of communication," police told the court.

It said only the custodial interrogation of the accused will reveal the names of others involved in this episode and help in

tracing victims.

"The investigation is at preliminary stage and more evidence is required to be collected as this case involves innocent women whose modesty has been insulted," police told the court.

Fabindia Worker In Kolhapur Held

Meanwhile, in yet another trial room snooping case, a worker of a Fabindia store in Kolhapur in Maharashtra has been arrested for allegedly filming a woman customer using his mobile phone, police said today.

The incident took place on March 31 in the leading ethnic garment brand's boutique in Tarabai Park area in Kolhapur in south Maharashtra.

The worker, Prakash Ananda Ispurle, was arrested on April 1 after the woman filed a police complaint, and was sent to judicial custody, police said.

The woman was trying clothes when Ispurle placed his mobile phone in recording mode in the gap between the trial room door and the floor, police said.

When she noticed the phone, she raised an alarm. Ispurle quickly pulled out the mobile phone and hurriedly went to a corner of the store and deleted the recording, they said.

During investigation, police spotted Ispurle in the CCTV footage filming the woman.

Voyeurism Case Could Malign Goa's Image

Former Chief Minister of Goa Digambar Kamat said the voyeurism case, filed against four employees could malign the state's image.

He termed the incident as "very unfortunate" and said it could malign the image of Goa, which is otherwise considered safe for women.

"Yesterday's incident was very unfortunate and wrong," he said. Kamat demanded stringent action against the guilty. He further said that people of Goa voted BJP to power for a "change".

Kamat said that common people were expecting good governance from the BJP government in Goa but they were left "disappointed".