Romeo – Mukesh Batra

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Anti Romeo Squads in the Country’s Heart Land

What’s in the Name if the Cause Leads to Fruition

 

The Bhartiya Janta Party prior to the Assembly Elections in UP had pledged to set up anti Romeo squads to curb eve teasing if they are voted into power. As soon as the results were declared in favour, the state Government swung into action and formed the so called anti Romeo squads. Forming anti Romeo squads implies a crack down on the romance leaving the state’s lovers fuming. However the primary question that arises is to why call it anti Romeo as Romeo was a man who gave up his life for his lover Juliet.

William Shakespeare must be tossing and turning in his grave for the famous young character Romeo being lynched on the streets of UP. Romeo was never a teaser for he loved and only loved Juliet. I am not too sure about the wisdom of the advisors to the Government who suggested the name. The love between Romeo and Juliet is an archetype of love or a model love like Laila Majnu of Sheeri Farhad. Therefore to present such a lover as a tormentor of women is like calling cow a wolf.

Even the suggestions made by the famously infamous Prashant Bhushan for the anti Romeo squads to have been called anti Krishna squad is least said mendacious as the Lord Krishna is believed to have done all this in Vrindavan from where he left for Mathura at the age of 10 and never returned. Therefore calling the mischievous acts of Lord Krishna at the nascent age of under 10 years cannot be termed as eve teasing. Coming back to the point, the UP police must rename the anti women teasing squads as there are a myriad of villainous characters that befit the term for anti women teasing squads.

Now the functional aspects. There is nothing wrong with forming the anti Woman teasing squads and in fact such squads or enactment of such legislature should be the in thing across the country like we have Tamilnadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act 1998. The women are now coming out of the stereotype moulds to go out and work in offices or study in various institutions. They go to work, colleges, travel in buses and trains. In short, wherever they go, the tormentors and molesters hurl suggestive remarks at them and it’s the need of the hour to confront them, grope them or anything within the framework of law. The similar work has been launched in Telangana wherein it has been a success thus far making movement of women far safer. The squads are composed of males and females in plain clothes and carry cameras to video photograph the activities.

The larger picture that lies before us is that the scope and ambit of powers conferred on these squads. Its been reported that the squads in the current format resorted to very nefarious acts such as traumatising the general public making it impossible for the brothers to accompany the sisters, couples not able to travel without fear and so on leading to a chaotic situation statewise. The squads should not target people of any community in particular and not harass couples if they are meeting with consent as the society survives by the security of ordinary life and survival is not mere vegetable existence.

Next comes is the framework to exercise the powers conferred on these squads. Herein, I would draw the attention of the readers to a classical judgement pronounced by the 5 judge Constitution bench of the Honourable Supreme Court on 29 April 1969. The citation reference is 1970 AIR (SC) 150. Justice JS Hegde writing for the bench observed that the dividing line between the administrative power and quasi judicial power is quite thin and gradually being obliterated. For determining whether the power is administrative or quasi judicial, one has look at the nature of power conferred, on whom its conferred, framework of law conferring that power, consequences ensuing from the exercise of that power and the manner in which the power is expected to be exercised. The Court goes on to suggest that the requirement of acting judicially, in essence is nothing but a requirement to act justly and fairly and not arbitrarily or capriciously. Therefore, these are the guiding principles required to be followed while institutionalising such bodies.

Lastly, the training aspects. As we have military academies across the country to train our officers and soldiers before they are put into operational deployment or the training institutions for paramilitary forces for that matter, similar training pattern is essential for training men and women joining the force for resulting a better cause.

Like always, before I part, suggestions and criticism are solicited. Will be with you soon. Be happy and be good.

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