Police raids: Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission initiates probe, mulls case against cops

As Mumbai police faced more flak for its raids on hotels in which couples were allegedly harassed, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe into the conduct of the policemen and they could face action if any violation of law was found.

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Police sources said today that if the policemen were found to have intruded into the privacy of people and violated laws they would face departmental action even as the Human Rights panel mulled registering a case.

Slamming the act of moral policing as very "funny and stupid", former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro sought to know under which rules the hotel rooms were raided.

The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, said a preliminary inquiry report into the raids conducted by Malwani Police at hotels, resorts and lodges in Madh Island and Aksa beach here on August 6 will be submitted in the next few days.

Striking a different note, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said said there is "no moral policing" and that police must be encouraged for "good things."

Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria had on Sunday directed ACP (North) Fatehsingh Patil to carry out an inquiry into the raids.

Maria issued the orders after the raids sparked public outrage with many raising questions as to why consenting adults cannot stay together.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the police action, the Human Rights panel initiated a probe and promised action if innocent people were found to have been harrassed.

"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 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 MSHRC has received a few complaints through e-mails from some concerned citizens but not from the victims so far, Bannurmath said, adding "we are proposing to register a case and inquire into the incident."

Patil said he has started inquiring with the policemen who were involved in the raids. "Considering the magnitude of the raids by police, the scope of inquiry becomes very wide."

"I will also have to talk and inquire with managers or concerned staff of hotels, resorts and lodges where the raids took place," he said. A preliminary report on the probe will be submitted in a few days, but the final report will take time, the ACP said while refusing to divulge further details of the inquiry.

The raids were conducted by a team of Malwani police station officials led by DCP (Zone XI) Vikram Deshmane.

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.

Police had also rescued three women under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and sent them to shelter home.

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