Mumbai hotel raids: Police can't take moral stand, says High Court

Seeking to know under what provisions the police conducted raids on couples in hotels in suburban Malvani, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said the police cannot take a moral stand in the matter without the backing of law or legislative policy.

Last month, in a controversial move, the >police raided hotels and lodges at the Aksa and Mudh island area and rounded up 40 couples. After widespread outrage, Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria ordered a >probe into the police action.

Hearing a PIL, a division bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said, "Any action of the executive should be supported by legal provisions or executive policy. If there is no legislative policy, then executive actions have to be based on some policy by the State cabinet or Assembly. It is not for the police to take a moral stand and say this is illegal."

While lauding the police for its efforts to check prostitution, the court noted, "Care should be taken that honest people who want to stay there, and it is their right, are not arrested in the guise of taking regulatory measures and that innocent people are not harassed and their privacy is not violated."

The State government in an affidavit tendered on Thursday said the police had received several complaints from locals MLAs, organisations and residents of an alleged prostitution racket in the some of the lodges and private homes in the area. The police were therefore directed to conduct checks and take preventive steps.

"Therefore certain lodges and registers were checked. In some instances, some customers had not furnished their identities," State lawyer Sandeep Shinde told the court.

The court asked under what provisions the disclosure of identities was mandatory and directed the State to file a further reply on the legal basis for police action.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 1:08:16 am |