Mumbai: Amid the controversy over police raids led by ACP Vasant Dhobale on Mumbai night clubs, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to interfere in remand home detention of two sisters picked up from a restaurant, saying it saw nothing wrong in the police action.
Accusing Dhobale of high-handedness, the two women had claimed that they were not victims of a prostitution racket as alleged by the police and had demanded Rs one crore in damages.
A division bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and AR Joshi today turned down the petition filed by the two women seeking release from the remand home and also damages from the city police for "defaming and damaging their reputation".
"Unless the inquiry into the case is complete there is no question of release. The magistrate is seized with the inquiry and is expected to pass an order tomorrow on the release of the petitioners. It would be premature to interfere in the matter now," the High Court ordered.
Observing that the police had proceeded as per legal procedure while conducting the raid, Justice Khanwilkar said, "The police on suspicion raided a place. You (petitioners) were rescued from the raided place and produced before a magistrate which sent you to a protective home. What is wrong in that?"
The two sisters were among 11 women picked up by the police in a raid led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhobale from a suburban restaurant `Masala Curry` on June 5, on suspicion of being involved in prostitution. The girls were produced before a magistrate`s court which sent them to a remand home.
Advocate Anand Jondhale, appearing for the two sisters, however argued that while police has the right to conduct raids on suspicion, they have to do a background check of the girls before detaining them for over 21 days.
"The petitioners were only eating at the restaurant as part of a friend`s brithday celebrations. The petitioners are from an educated and affluent family but now have been branded as prostitutes," Jondhale argued.
Additional public prosecutor Usha Kejriwal pointed out to the court that the girls` family have filed a similar application before the magistrate seeking release and the order is to be passed tomorrow. She further said that an inquiry report has also been submitted to the magistrate.
Accepting this, the court refused to interfere and rejected the petition.
Backing Dhobale, Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said he was an officer with "impeccable integrity".
"We have been taking these actions throughout and will continue as per law because this is my mandate.... I’m running an enforcement organisation" and not a charity, he said.