The court was told that residents had complained to the police alleging hotels in the area were being used for running prostitution rackets.

Mumbai hotel raids HC says police had laudable intention but innocent people cannot be harassed
news Thursday, September 03, 2015 - 19:16

Almost a month after the Mumbai Police reportedly dragged out 40 couples from hotel rooms in the city after conducting raids, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said that the police’s intention was “laudable”, but that innocent people cannot be harassed and their privacy cannot be invaded upon. 

A division bench of justices VM Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi was hearing a petition filed by Khar resident Sumeer Sabharwal, who sought action against the officials involved, states a PTI report. 

The court was told that residents and local legislators had complained to the police alleging hotels in the area were being used for running prostitution rackets. 

“The complaints claimed that girls living in the area were being abused by miscreants. Hence higher authorities directed the local police to take action,” public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde told the court. Shinde added that while conducting the raids, the police checked the entries made in the hotel register first and then called the couples who had entered fake names, states the report.  

“Obviously it is a laudable intention. There is no doubt that the police's intention was to regulate and find out if there was any prostitution racket. But, at the same time care should be taken to ensure that innocent people are not harassed and their privacy is not invaded. Police cannot take a moral stand,” the PTI report quotes Justice Kanade as saying.

"Which policy decision or rule authorises the police to ask the hotel to register the identity of the person who books a room? Any action of the executive should be supported by legal provisions. We want to know after receiving such complaints what procedure is followed before taking action,” the court added.

The Mumbai police had raided several hotels and lodges in Madh Island and Aksa on August 6. They reportedly dragged 40 couples out of the rooms and allegedly detained and harassed them. They were later booked for 'indecency in public’. 

The episode garnered heavy criticism for the force and a probe was ordered into the alleged detention by the Malwani Police.