Lalita Bais & Ors vs State of Maharashtra


An FIR against five people who were scheduled to see a performance by skimpily clothed ladies and were showered with fake cash was recently rejected by the Bombay High Court.

The high court stated that, in the subjective view of the police, the actions of six girls who were also booked for provocatively dancing, wearing short skirts, and making gestures, did not constitute an indecent act.

“…wearing short skirts, dancing provocatively or making gestures that the Police Officials consider obscene cannot be termed to be per se obscene acts, which could annoy any member of the public,” the order reads.

The Nagpur bench’s division bench of Justice Vinay Joshi and Justice Valmiki SA Menezes stated that the decision of what is considered obscene or not should not be left to the discretion of police officials.

“Whilst holding so, we are mindful of the general norms of morality prevalent in present Indian Society and take judicial note of the fact, that in present times it is quite common and acceptable that women may wear such clothing, or maybe clad in swimming costumes or such other revealing attire. We often witness this manner of dress in films which pass censorship or at beauty pageants held in broad public view, without annoying any audience. Surely the provisions of Section 294 of IPC would not apply to all this situation,” the order states.

The FIRs that had been filed against five people had been overturned by a petition submitted to the high court.

The police officer who arrested the people under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, and the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 filed the first information report (FIR).

Six ladies were allegedly dancing provocatively and wearing skimpy apparel when the audience threw fake Rs. 10 notes at them, according to the FIR. Three alcohol bottles were also found by the cops.

The appellants’ attorney contended that as the FIR omitted any indication of anyone being irritated as a result of the alleged obscene act, it lacked certain elements required by Section 294 of the IPC.

It was also made clear that the concert was taking place in a resort’s banquet hall, which was not visible to the general public.

The appellants claimed that just because a police officer thought the women’s attire and dancing motions were obscene, it does not mean that an offence has been committed under this section of the IPC.

In response, the prosecution contended that the entire raid was conducted based on secret intelligence that an explicit dance performance involving women in skimpy clothing was happening within the aforementioned Resort.

 Six women were discovered in the Banquet Hall after the raid was carried out. They were provocatively dancing and making lewd gestures.

The prosecution further contended that the FIR should have been filed because the customers were also taking part in the dance and dousing the women with counterfeit money.

The division bench agreed with the appellants’ arguments and dismissed the FIR, noting that

“Surely, Section 294 of the IPC would not apply to this entire situation, and we cannot tolerate a scenario in which a police officer would judge acts like the ones mentioned in the FIR as obscene acts that would annoy any member of the public based solely on his personal opinion. It would be backwards of us to have a limited definition of what behaviours could be considered obscene. We would rather take a progressive stance on the issue and won’t allow police officials to make such a judgement,” the decree states.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

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