As Hindustan Times reporters Nikhil Ghanekar and Saurabh Joshi made their way to the Bombay high court complex on Wednesday, they weren’t sure they would be allowed in.
The two men weren’t known miscreants or carrying contraband, but they were in sleeveless T-shirts.
And a fellow journalist in a sleeveless tee had been stopped at the gates and declared indecently dressed just days earlier.
“I was almost 99% sure I would be stopped at the entrance too,” Joshi says.
As it turned out, they needn’t have worried. Both men made it past the gates without a murmur of protest from the policemen on security duty — not once, but twice.
“All I encountered were a few confused stares,” says Ghanekar. “They checked our bags and let us through.”
After walking about within the court building, Ghanekar and Joshi left the complex, took a short walk and re-entered from another gate. This time too, there was no reaction to their T-shirts.
“No one at either gate knew who we were. Our bags were screened, like everyone else’s, and we were let through,” says Joshi.
This was very unlike the experience magazine editor Priya Pathiyan, a woman, faced on Saturday.
“I was stopped at the gate and told that I could not enter,” says Pathiyan, who had intended to visit the same sesquicentennial anniversary exhibition within the court premises that Joshi and Ghanekar visited on Wednesday.
“When I asked why, the woman constable said my sleeveless top was indecent and that she had turned away several such visitors… I guess all of them were women.”
SB Shukre, registrar general of the Bombay high court, declined comment, saying no such incident had been reported to the court registry.
The circular, he admitted, instructed police personnel at the gates to allow in only visitors and litigants in ‘decent dress’.