Former DGP Jacob Punnoose, in his last circular to the policemen, has given orders to take legal action against those engaged in criminal activities under the guise of moral policing.
Whenever the information on such criminal activities is received by a police officer, a case must be registered promptly and the investigation must be carried out in a speedy and efficient manner, he stated.
In many parts of the state, self-proclaimed enforcers of personal code of conduct commit crimes of intimidation, extortion, assault, hurt and murder, violating the privacy of the citizens and impinging on the personal freedom of the individuals. Described as ‘moral policing’, the general characteristics of the illegal activity is an attempt by certain individuals and groups to enforce selfproclaimed codes of morality and conduct.
Very often, it is directed against women. Such conduct is neither moral, nor does the policing have the sanction of law.
“Suo moto cases may be registered where appropriate, without waiting for a formal complaint. “The cases registered must invoke the appropriate ingredients of criminal law, like criminal trespass, assault or hurt, attempt to murder, murder, extortion, robbery and dacoity under IPC Sections 324, 307, 302, 383, 390 and 395,” he said.
The criminals must be arrested and prosecuted effectively.
Wherever justified, effective preventive legal action, including action under Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act 2007, must be taken.
Through stringent, effective and deterrent legal action, the police must effectively tackle the menace to the society.
He also noted that it is important that the police officers themselves do not fall into the trap of ‘moral policing’ and seek to enforce a nebulous ‘code of morals’ as against an enacted ‘code of laws’.
When a police officer is confronted with any doubt as to whether an act in question should entail any action, the sole test that should be applied is to assess whether the alleged act would constitute an offence as defined in the Indian Penal Code or any other relevant criminal law, he added.