Moral policing overdrive: Cops catch school boys for 'smoking'

Mar 02, 2014, 08:23 IST | Saurabh Vaktania

Drag 15 school children to police station, call in their parents after catching them smoking cigarettes, but don’t bother arresting shopkeeper who sold them the packet

The Bandra police could not catch any criminals yesterday. Instead they picked up 15 school-going teenagers near the Bandra railway terminus for smoking cigarettes while in school uniform. The police said all the teenagers were from the same area but belonged to different schools. The cops took the children to the police station, called their parents and let them off after issuing a formal warning to the scared teenagers. However, they ignored the fact that the real culprit was the shopkeeper who had sold the cigarette packet to underage consumers.

A sign at a pan shop in Sion that tells how it’s a crime to sell tobacco products to minors. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

When contacted, PSI Raju Thubal of Nirmal Nagar police station said, “All the kids were sitting near the tracks adjacent to the Bandra terminus and consuming cigarettes. We brought all of them to the police station. We then called their parents and warned them to be careful in future. No case was registered. We learnt that the boys had been bunking school for the past several months.”

Senior police inspector Sharad Borse said, “One of the teenagers was not going to school for the last two days. His parents had approached us and we found him near the station, smoking. We just warned them as they are young and we do not want them to take to criminal activities.”

Outside the police station several parents were seen crying after meeting the cops. A mother of one teenager, who works as a manager with a private bank said, “My husband and I leave for work after dropping my son to school. He returns home and leaves for tuition. We see him in the evening. I never knew all this was going on.”

Moral policing?
But were the police within their rights to detain teenagers for smoking? Senior advocate Majeed Memom said, “In this case it was not a cognisable or a non-cognisable offence. Therefore strictly speaking, the police could not prosecute the youngsters. The officer in his judgment and wisdom summoned the parents of the boys. This conduct of the police should not be looked upon as a case of moral policing since their motive was the welfare of the kids.”

Another senior advocate Dipesh Mehta said, “The police were within their rights to bring the kids to the police station. The police just warned them in front of their parents and let them off without any fine. This will help them mend their ways.”

>> The students were bunking school for days 
>> Lawyers say cops within their rights to catch the boys
>> All of them were let off with a warning

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