Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh suggested on Tuesday that citizens should "slap" suspected criminals to help his officers bring them to justice.
The top cop told a function on women's safety that he and his force are finding it hard to catch culprits because they are not allowed to slap.
"How could we nab a culprit? We don't have the right to slap them. When we do that, it's called a human rights violation," Singh said, according to NDTV news.
"We can't do it, but you can. You could slap them and we will bring the culprits to book."
Women's safety has been a growing concern across India since the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a female student in New Delhi in December, which sparked nationwide protests.
Last month, Singh told another forum that there is a higher rate of crime against women in countries which included sex education in their curriculum, such as America.
"According to a survey, rape is more common than smoking there," he said.
Police in and around Mumbai also came under fire last month for targeting couples and young women in isolated areas or out late at night, rather than focusing on their potential attackers.