Fabindia apologises to Smriti Irani, while four get bail

There were no hidden cameras in the store, says boutique chain’s official statement

Panaji: Four employees of upmarket boutique chain Fabindia were released on bail by a trial court on Saturday, as Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar ruled out any mischief and the company issued an apology to union HRD minister Smriti Irani who reported the alleged CCTV snooping at a store in the coastal state.

Also read: Smriti Irani spots CCTV directed at FabIndia's trial room; store sealed

Fabindia employees, accused in CCTV camera case, while being taken to court in Mapusa on Saturday. Pic/PTI
Fabindia employees, accused in CCTV camera case, while being taken to court in Mapusa on Saturday. Pic/PTI

Earlier in the day, four employees of Fabindia’s store in Candolim, who were arrested on Friday for allegedly setting up a CCTV camera which overlooked the store’s changing room where Human Resource Development Minister Irani was trying out clothes, were granted bail by a trial court.

The four — Karim Lakhani, Prashant Naik, Raju Panche and Paresh Bhagat — were released on a personal bond of R5,000 each, after the Judicial Magistrate First Class Mapusa accepted the contention of the defence counsel that the CCTV camera was not installed with malafide intention.

All the four accused are junior employees of the boutique chain and were arrested following a complaint by BJP legislator Michael Lobo under charges of voyeurism, intrusion into privacy and under the Information Technology Act.
The Crime Branch, which is investigating the case, is expected to record statements of senior officials of Fabindia as well as managing director William Bissell.

Fabindia Overseas Pvt Ltd on Saturday formally apologised to Irani, but denied that there were any hidden cameras installed anywhere in the store or in the trial rooms and that the camera in question was part of a surveillance system at the outlet. “We would like to convey our apologies to the hon’ minister Smriti Irani for the inconvenience that has been inadvertently caused,” the firm said in a statement.

“There were no hidden cameras anywhere in the store, including the trial rooms. There are cameras in full public view and the fact (that) surveillance cameras are installed is prominently displayed in all the stores,” the statement said.

Fabindia assured that its staff and store manager were fully cooperating with police in the investigation to ensure it reaches the logical conclusion. Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) Karthik Kashyap said Fabindia officials “are cooperating in the investigation”, but they have sought time to appear before the investigators. The company has appointed its own three-member women's team to probe the incident and said that if any mischief has been perpetrated by anybody, such person should be punished as per law. "Fabindia and its products are loved by women across the country ... We highly value the dignity of women,” it said.

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