On a lazy Sunday, sitting on a couch, they decided to watch a movie. She got the popcorn and he got the CD.
She said, “Sweetheart, after having such a hectic week I am glad we are able to spend some time together but how I wish there was a bit more of privacy.”
He sighed, nodded and started the movie.
The movie began with a happy couple strolling down the road on a Valentine's Day heading towards the city's finest inn. Seeing this he jumps off the couch with excitement and said to his girlfriend, “Lets book a room in a hotel!”
She looked at him, her eyes wide open, her lips tightly sealed. She expressed her concern that recently she has come across a lot of reports regarding raids being conducted in hotels where the prime target of humiliation have been unmarried couples.
The boy, being a law student, sees this as the perfect opportunity to remove her misconception and explains to her that in India there is no law that prohibits a consensual couple, who are above 18 years of age from taking a hotel room. It doesn’t matter whether you hold a marriage certificate or you are just two people in love.
The girl, seemingly convinced with her boyfriend’s response, sits back on the couch and they resume the movie. The scene rolls on and the movie couple is in a hotel room. Suddenly, there is a loud bang on the door, the protagonist in the movie opens the door and five policemen barge in. They interrogate the man and take videos of the woman.
“Give me your father’s number,” said the policeman. The couple, helpless and humiliated, beg for mercy but the police officers start beating the man and cursing the woman. They drag them outside and take them in custody.
The girl, shaken, looked towards the boy and said, “The plan is off! I am never going to a hotel. What if we get caught in a similar situation?”
She then narrated a recent case wherein the Mumbai Police had raided a city hotel. This raid gained immense limelight and led to a public outrage. Thirteen couples were charged under Section 110 of the Bombay Police Act for carrying out indecent behaviour in public and some were even held under Section 7 of the Prevention of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.
The boy said,
“I want you to listen to me very carefully. No doubt that the police officers have the power to arrest and that these powers are elaborated under Section 41 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. However, what most people are unaware about is that these powers are not void of checks and balances.”
“Section 41B lays down procedures of arrest and duties of officers. Under this Section, it is mandatory for a police officer to wear a badge of identification. They have to prepare memorandum of arrest and inform a relative of the person arrested regarding the place of arrest and the charges framed against the accused. In addition to this, Section 57 mentions that an arrested person cannot be detained for more than 24 hours and he has to be brought before the magistrate under Section 167. The accused, under Section 50, also has the right to be informed regarding the reasons of his arrest and bail by the police officer,” explained the boy.
The girl still didn’t seem fully convinced. The boy continued, “Did you know? In cases of raids under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, the government appoints special police officers under Section 13 of the act and only they have the power to investigate. This has been clearly held in the Delhi Administration vs Ram Singh case. These officers are in turn associated with advisory body of social worker under clause 3 of the same section. This leaves minimal scope for exploitation by police officers.
“Apart from this, there are also guidelines regarding arresting powers laid down by the Supreme Court in the Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar case. It is clearly mentioned that the magistrate has to be given an oversight to ensure reasonable restrictions upon the power of a police officer,” said the boy.
“A woman can only be arrested by a lady cop and specially in the case where there is an explicit refusal for submission. This has been laid down under Section 46(1) proviso of the CRPC. Apart from this, Section 46 (4) specifies that she cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise unless there are special circumstances,” said the boy.
The girlfriend, still skeptical, asked him, “But what if the police officers abuse their powers? Are they held liable for the offence then?”
The boy grinned and said, “Yes, they are!”
“A public servant disobeying direction under law is penalised under Section 166 and 166 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1973. In the cases where they wrongfully confine a person, they can also be held under Section 342 of the IPC. Apart from this, any police officer who uses criminal force against a women and outrages her modesty can be charged under Section 354 of the IPC.”
She looked stunned and amazed. She took the remote, played the movie, gave a peck on his cheek and said, “Which hotel should I book honey, and when?”
(My Report by Purva Shrivastva and Antara Pachauri, first year students of OP Jindal Global University.)
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