31/03/2017 8:19 AM IST | Updated 31/03/2017 8:20 AM IST

Anti-Romeo Drive In UP Should Be Seen As Preventive Policing, Not Moral Policing, Says Allahabad High Court

These squads now have the court's approval.

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Young couples spend time on the ghats of the river Ganges in Varanasi.

A Lucknow bench comprising Justices Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Sanjay Harkauli of the Allahabad High Court yesterday gave its nod to the so-called Anti-Romeo Squads that were formed by the Yogi Adityanath government to curb incidents of harassment of women in Uttar Pradesh, and said the teams were not involved in "moral policing", but "preventive policing."

"We are unable to gather any lawful or otherwise constitutional defect in the attempt made by the state government and its authorities in proceeding to form the squads for the purpose of such policing," the Bench was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

The Bench said that the drive should be seen as "preventive policing" rather than moral policing, and observed that "the state government can frame laws in case it finds that the provisions which do exist are inadequate to meet this situation..."

The court also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that guidelines are followed by the anti-Romeo squads. The order came on a PIL filed by Advocate Gaurav Gupta questioning the drive in UP. It alleged that the police was not following the guidelines during the drive, aimed at checking eve-teasing, and was harassing couples.

PTI reports: The petitioner also raised the issue of shortage of police personnel and sought directions for proper guidelines regarding the drive. On behalf of the state government, chief standing counsel Mansoor Ahmad contended that proper guidelines were issued by the DGP on March 22 and 25.

The court disposed of the petition with the direction to the state government to increase police personnel in the state as per police-public ratio, the petitioner said.