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Mumbai police have no business enforcing morals

The police have no business enforcing ‘morals’ as in Mumbai, they must stick to law and order.

editorials Updated: Aug 12, 2015 01:31 IST
Hindustan Times
Recently, when couples were arrested from hotels at Aksa Beach and Madh Island in Mumbai and insulted, harassed, fined and detained for five hours because someone thought wanting some privacy in this setting amounted to public indecency, there was a huge public uproar. (Shutterstock Photo)

In any civilised society, the police are expected to maintain law and order and protect citizens, not hound them. But in Mumbai it seems the rules are different.

Last week, in a clear case of overreach, the Malwani police barged into several hotel rooms in the Madh Island and Aksa area and rounded up 13 couples — all consenting adults — for ‘indecent behaviour in public’.

If this action of the police was shocking, what followed was worse: The policemen detained the couples for five hours, thrashed a few when they protested against such an unacceptable invasion of privacy and imposed a fine of Rs 1,200 on them.

After massive social media outrage over the incident, Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria on Monday ordered a probe into the incident and a day later, a senior police official admitted that detaining the 13 couples was “wrong” and that action will be taken against the erring officers.

While it may sound harsh, it is true that people in India don’t have much faith in the police. However, this does not mean that all those who wear khaki are corrupt or incompetent but incidents like these erode whatever precious little trust is left in the force.

If Malwani police had got a tip-off about any illegal racket operating in the area, they should have ensured that they reached the right rooms, not just any room.

In fact, the policemen launched this raid on an ‘unverified tip-off’. What they were probably trying to do was to get everyone in one go and then sift out those indulging in illegal acts. This shows their lack of skills, planning and lack of adherence to standard operating procedures before launching such raids.

In the Supreme Court on Monday, the Centre assured the court that governments cannot become totalitarian and the NDA government will not indulge in moral policing. The thought is indeed noble but the tough task would be to instill this thought in the minds of over-zealous law-enforcers.

First Published: Aug 11, 2015 21:16 IST