By turning misbehaviour with tourists a cognisable offence, police officials will be empowered to arrest the individuals accused of such crimes without an arrest warrant.
In a significant step towards promoting tourism in the state, the Rajasthan state legislative assembly has passed an amendment bill that has categorised misbehaviour with tourists as a cognisable offence. The assembly has amended the Rajasthan Tourism Trade (Facilitation and Regulation) Act, 2010 to make misbehaviour with tourists a cognisable offence. The same amendment has also made repeated offence of misbehaviour a non-bailable offence, the Indian Express reported. By turning misbehaviour with tourists a cognisable offence, police officials will be empowered to arrest the individuals accused of such crimes without an arrest warrant. By making such crimes non-bailable individuals who have committed such crimes will not be able to get off the hook easily and will need to go to the court to secure their bail in contrast to the bailable offences where police officials can grant bail to an accused.
Why were the changes needed?
The change in the 2010 act will make offences such as touting, begging and hawking articles in and around the tourist places in the state. While the offences have been made cognisable, if an individual is found to be repeatedly committing the same crime then the offence would qualify under the non-bailable offence category. Rajasthan is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the country and hosts crores of domestic and international tourists every year. The changes were brought reportedly to deal against the menace of ‘touts’ who forcefully or in an annoying manner confront foreign tourists and make them buy things at an exorbitant price. Individuals who earn commission by forcefully directing tourists to certain establishments will also be covered under the crime definition. While the state police officials do take action against touts, they are easily let off by paying fine as the said offences were bailable and non-cognisable earlier.
Background of 2010 Act
In January 2017, the Rajasthan High Court had quashed the FIR against two individuals who were accused of misbehaving with tourists and noted that in the 2010 Rajasthan Tourism Trade (Facilitation and Regulation) Act the offences were not clearly categorised as cognisable. Tourism Minister of the state Govind Singh Dotasra in the assembly said that the 2010 act did not specify whether the offences were cognisable, non-cognisable or non-bailable. The minister explained that following the Rajasthan High Court order, police officials had stopped registering FIRs against such criminals and a change in the law was needed to make the offences cognisable and non-bailable for repeat offenders.