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Can cops walk into my home?

If you thought house parties were safe from cop busts, think again. Here’s everything you need to know, just in case the police decide to pay you a late-night visit.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2012 13:57 IST
Serena Menon

A few weeks ago, Karl Bharucha, an advertising executive, was at a friend’s apartment at Breach Candy with seven odd people. There was no dancing and the music was being played off USB-charged laptop speakers.

At about 2.30 a.m, two police officers visited the flat. Initially, they refused to speak to the girl whose house it was and demanded to speak to the saab (sir). “When I eventually met them, they said they saw the lights on and heard some music playing. That’s why they decided to come see if everything was okay,” he says.

The frequency of such harmless visits seems to have increased in the last few weeks. It started with people being forced out of bars way before 1.30 a.m. But now house parties seem to have come under the scanner.

“Cops barged into my friends’ house party and made everyone leave. They didn’t even allow people to finish their dinner,” says Kunal Sharma (29), an entrepreneur, about another such incident in the city.

While loads of information about what one can do in such situations, within the legal purview, is doing the rounds on social networking sites, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind if the law comes knocking.

In the case of a raid, can women be arrested and taken to the police station?
Normally, women can neither be arrested nor called to a police station between sunset and sunrise. However, under exceptional circumstances, if at all they are arrested or called to a police station, it is binding upon the police to allow their relatives to stay with them.

While arresting or interrogating a woman, it is binding upon the police to keep women police personnel present. Accused women are to be kept in the cells specially reserved for them. If there is no separate room, they are to be kept in the visitor’s room.

Can a police officer walk into your house and search it?
Any officer, who is in charge of a police station, or an investigating officer has the authority to conduct a search of any place situated within the jurisdiction of his police station for anything connected with the offence.

“Ordinarily, the police must carry a search warrant before entering a residence or a private office. However, in matters of investigation of cognisable offences, the police has the right not only to enter, but even to make arrests without a warrant,” says lawyer Majid Memon.

Can a police officer walk into your house without an ID?
It is necessary that the police officers concerned show their identity cards before conducting a search. You are within your rights to check and search the raiding party before they start the search.

Do foreign passport holders need to have a drinking permit?
Yes. Foreign nationals can get the permit form from: http://goo.gl/2dT9B

How much alcohol can you consume according to the drinking permit?
A person is allowed to drink two units of alcohol a day. For hard liquor the two-unit limit is 214.28 ml, for beer it’s 1.14 litres and for wine, 0.448 litres. In a month, you can buy 1,500 ml of hard liquor, eight litres of beer and 3.4 litres of wine.

source: www.mumbaipolice.org