The Maharashtra government today informed the Bombay High Court it was planning to frame guidelines to ensure police don’t misuse powers while raiding hotels to check prostitution.
This was stated by Chief Public Prosecutor S S Shinde when a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka inquired whether the state had issued any guidelines to ensure police do not misuse powers during such raids.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation alleging police had committed excesses while raiding hotels in suburban Malwani last year by imposing fines on couples on charges of indecency.
The bench was of the opinion that if there were no guidelines to check police from misuse of powers, then it would be in public interest to frame some rules.
The judges asked the state to frame guidelines if not done so earlier. Accordingly, the state sought a reasonable time frame to form rules for police in this regard and the bench gave four weeks to the government to frame guidelines.
The court had on last occasion asked the government whether it had issued any guidelines on police raids on hotels and had asked the chief public prosecutor to appear on behalf of the state today and throw light on this aspect.
The bench had also asked petitioner Sumeer Sabharwal to file a reply to the second affidavit filed by police on conducting raids at hotels in suburban Malwani in Malad area of North Mumbai.
The judges also asked Sabharwal, a Khar resident, to file written submissions and offer suggestions on procedures to be followed by police in such cases.
On August 6, 2015, police had cracked down on hotels and bars in Malwani area and imposed fine on several couples on charges of indecency.
The petition had termed the raids as “illegal, intrusive and unconstitutional” and sought action against police officials involved.
The high court had earlier observed that while there was a laudable intention behind police raids on hotels in Malwani following complaints of an alleged prostitution racket operating there, innocent persons cannot be harassed and their privacy should not be invaded.
The Maharashtra government had taken a stand that police received complaints from local MLAs and residents that hotels in the area were being used to run prostitution racket and hence they conducted raids on hotels.