Monday, December 9, 2019

'double room with twin occupation' ~ stay in hotels - legality !!!


Lot happened Maharashtra – every political party tried teaching a lesson to others. As usual, there were newer definitions of ‘secularism’ and political shrewdness! – and what was ‘politically right ?’.  in between how much do you enjoy your stay and what are the criteria when you select a hotel for your stay at the place of travel!

Miles away, on the busy Delhi-Jaipur National highway, inside a luxury resort, many Congress Corporators of Maharashtra were housed, away from the media and ensuring their loyalty. Keeping them in good spirits, the Congress party remained busy holding discussions with the NCP and the Shiv Sena with regard to the government formation in Maharashtra.  Before ridiculing this, have in mind that this has happened many times in the Nation, and also in our own Tamil Nadu. After the death of Ms J Jayalalithaa, a  luxury resort 80 km off  Chennai was at the centre of a political storm in Tamil Nadu – as two factions claimed the majority. But how much life has changed, there has been some rejig and the party is still in power.  It was more or less the same situation when MGR passed away in Dec 1987 – reportedly MLAs were held up in a ginning mill and later  Mrs Janaki Ramachandran proved majority before the Governor, albeit for a short while.

This is no post on politics or MLA’s stay in hotels – but more on stay on hotels!  ~  sometime back, Tamil Nadu police sealed a service apartment in Coimbatore after a surprise raid.  The raid was said to have been conducted over complaints from neighbours and news in print and social media that unmarried couples were being permitted to stay in hotel rooms, which was termed as "immoral." The rooms were subsequently sealed off, with the police citing the absence of a 'Form D' certificate and the proprietors of the premises allowing illegal activities in the rooms as reasons. The objectionable activities alleged including the serving of liquor and allowing unmarried guests to occupy the rooms.

Thousands of miles away, in Japan, a  hotel room for a dollar sounds pretty great, right? Just one catch. There’s a camera in the room that will live-stream your stay. The brain behind this novel idea is 27-year old Tetsuya Inoue who runs Asahi Ryokan, a hotel in Fukuoka, Japan that’s owned by his grandmother. The other rooms go at $24 a night, but if you’re really broke this is the room for you.  It’s something like living a day on The Truman Show, except you actually know that you’re on camera !  The camera is fitted in such a way that the bathroom is out of range, and the camera records video only – so all conversations will remain private.

.. …. In a Quiz, a man and a woman colleague who formed the team were asked – if you are to travel together and book a room at a hotel – what will you say in te reception while booking a room ?  .. [if not a single room and if one were to stay together – would call it a double room or twin room ?]  .. .. .. When traveling or booking hotel rooms, people often come across the terms twin and double room. Most of us are under the mistaken impression that the two are the same as twin means two and double also means two. Though Twin and double refers to the number ‘Two’, there is a difference between Twin and double room in hotel terminology.  Double refers to a room where there would be only one large bed and in twin room, there would be two small beds. In twin room, the beds are separate where as in double there is no separation of the bed. Couples usually prefer double rooms. On the other hand, if one were to say ‘double room with twin occupation’ there will be two separate cots !

Of the many Acts, perhaps the one some would be uncomfortable is : the Immoral Traffic (Precention) Act 1956.  The Act inter-alia defines “brothel” as -  includes any house, room, [conveyance] or place or any portion of any house, room, which is used for purposes of sexual exploitation or abuse,  for the gain of another person or for the mutual gain of two or more prostitutes.

Now read this interesting observations made by Madras High court in the Coimbatore case.  Justice MS Ramesh passed the judgment observing that a live-in relationship of two adults is not deemed to be an offence. The occupation of a hotel room by an unmarried couple would not attract an offence; and the court also ordered de-sealing of the  hire service apartment in Coimbatore, which was closed after authorities found an unmarried couple occupying the apartment during a search.  Noting that the state law allowed possession of stipulated quantities of liquor by an individual, the Judge also said the consumption of liquor by the guests on the petitioners' premises cannot also be termed as illegal.

Observing that a live-in relationship of two adults is not deemed to be an offence, the Madras High Court has said that the occupation of a hotel room by such unmarried couples will not attract a criminal offence. "Apparently, there are no laws or regulations forbearing unmarried persons of the opposite sex to occupy hotel rooms as guests," Justice said in a recent order. While that being so, the extreme step of sealing the premises on the ground that an unmarried couple was occupying the premises is totally illegal in the absence of any law prohibiting the same, he said.

According to the petitioner, they were running a hospitality service in Service apartment  in Coimbatore.  A search was conducted on the premises by a team from the office of the Tahsildar and local police on 25 June last. The team found liquor bottles in one of the rooms occupied by the guests and in one room two adults who were not married were staying. The premises was then sealed.  The petitioner contended that such an action has been taken based on the viral news spread on the social media about the premises. The prosecution said the petitioner's premises had not obtained Form D and without details of the guests in the booking registers, illegal activities by the guests were permitted. In view of the objections from the neighbouring womenfolk, the action was taken against the petitioner.

Law is often ………..  !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Dec 2019.


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