Spelling an end to moral policing, top cops have decided to no longer use the draconian Section 110 under the Bombay Police Act. This is not just a massive relief for couples in the city, who have often been targeted with this dreaded law, but also a victory for people power.
In the past, the police have been known to charge citizens for public indecency under this section for as little as hugging in public. But recent acts of such moral policing met with severe backlash from citizens.
In a city fast running out of space, people have little privacy, and public nooks and corners, sea promenades and little by-lanes had become areas where couples could express their affection. The police would patrol these areas, striking fear into the hearts of citizens, especially youngsters, who are easily frightened into parting with their money or daunted by the prospect of being found out by parents or peers. Because of this, the wall between the public and police was getting thicker. Distrust was growing and the stereotype of the cop as extortionist-bully was getting stronger.
Moral policing has no place in a democracy and no one should interfere with two consenting adults. We’ve also seen Valentine’s Day targeted by the Shiv Sena, which used to vandalise stores selling teddy bears and red felt hearts. Most of this, of course, was for publicity, although the pretext was to fight the supposedly dark and diabolical ‘Western culture’. It’s not just Shiv Sena, but many others in power who have used moral policing as a tool of oppression and intimidation. Yes, there are some grey areas that need to be ironed out, as some cops feel that that the order needs to be more specific, so that it doesn’t end up compromising their ability to tackle real anti-social elements. However, that is a matter for the police top brass to sort out.
This is a welcome decision by the men in khakhi. Ironically, with this decision it’s not less, but more power to them.