‘Moral policing’: Karnataka HC to cop who confined woman and 3-year-old at rehabilitation centre

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The Dharwad bench of Karnataka High Court has imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on a police inspector and a rehabilitation centre for forcefully confining a married woman and her three-year-old daughter at the centre. Terming the act as “moral policing”, the court expressed its displeasure and said that the inspector cannot intervene in the married life of a person.

A bench headed by justice NS Sanjay Gowda ordered the court registrar to deposit the fine amount as a fixed deposit in the name of the girl child. Her mother, the petitioner in the case, can draw interest from the fixed deposit, the court said.

On May 3 this year, the petitioner moved out of her husband’s house along with their kid due to domestic issues. A missing complaint was filed by the husband at a police station in Belagavi. Police inspector Balasahed Patil called the woman to the police station and tried to mediate between the couple. The woman said that she was in love with a man living in the neighbourhood and she had separated with an intention to live with him and wanted to end the marriage.

Patil then sent her to a rehabilitation centre that houses victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. The woman, in her petition, said that she was not allowed to have any contact with the outside world, especially with her lover. Despite several requests, she was not allowed to go outside for six months, which the court observed was “illegal detention”.

The court, in its order said that the woman had not requested any shelter and she did not want to live with her husband. Sending her to the rehabilitation centre “reflects a lack of humanity and sensitivity on the part of the police inspector,” the court said.

In the verdict given on December 8, the court said that the police inspector cannot interfere in the life of a person and whatever the police inspector did amounts to “moral policing”.

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