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MSHRC initiates probe into police raids, activists slam moral policing

August 11, 2015 16:17 IST

The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe into last week's raids by the Malwani police at hotels and a beach in Mumbai taking suo motu cognisance of the matter.

"Yes, on the basis of a report published in a daily, we have initiated an inquiry into the conduct of police officials and would seek details of action (raids) from the police commissioner," MSHRC Chairmam Justice S R Bannurmath told PTI.

"I have to make an inquiry and call for the report from the police commissioner. If we come to know that innocent persons were troubled unnecessarily, we will take further action," he said.

The Commission has already received few complaints through e-mails from common people but not from the victims so far, he said, adding "we are proposing to register a case and inquire into the incident."

"But, as per the procedure, first we will have to register a case," he added.

Meanwhile, women rights activist Abha Singh slammed the police raids, saying, "The police officers made an illegal entry into private rooms of couples who were not violating the law. This would amount to criminal trespass, an offence under section 448 of the Indian Penal Code."

She claimed that the couples were subjected to "criminal restraint and wrongful confinement for about five hours", which is an offence under IPC sections 341 and 342.

"Since these are cognisable sections, the lawful course is to file a first information report against the defaulting cops so that the rule of law prevails," she said.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro sought to know what is "moral policing" and under which rule the policemen raided hotel rooms.

"I know normal policing according to the rule book and the law of the land, not moral policing. Under which rule they raided the hotel rooms where consenting adults had checked in," Ribeiro said.

This act of moral policing was very "funny and stupid", he said.

Terming the raids as "absolutely unnecessary," Maharashtra State Women Commission's former chairperson Susieben Shah said "it was embarrassing that the couples had to face public scrutiny."

Aam Aadmi Party leader's national spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon called for sensitising policemen to contemporary social values.

"There is a need for large-scale sensitisation of the police personnel about the contemporary social values systems," she said.

"It's is really sad that they are guided by the repressive ideas promoted by the current government," she alleged. "I am relieved that the Police Commissioner has ordered an inquiry, but it has to be followed up by action, which we all know is doubtful," Menon said.

A team of Malwani police station officials led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone XI) Vikram Deshmane had conducted raids at few hotels, resorts and lodges as well as beaches at MadhIsland and Aksa on August 6.

Later, 61 people, including 13 couples, were arrested under section 110 (indecent behaviour in public) of Maharashtra Police Act.

However, they were let off after being fined Rs 1,200 each with an undertaking that they will appear before the local magistrate when required.

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