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Defending Dhoble?

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  1. This was written in response to 
  2. A cliff notes version is:

    1. There are some archaic laws e.g. Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, Bombay Shops and Establishment Act, 1948 (by archaic one doesn’t necessarily mean that the objectives behind these Acts are anachronistic but that the provisions, language and modes of enforcement are). BSEA §33(3) states:

    No such woman shall be required or allowed to work in any establishment after 8.30 p.m.

    2. Vasant Dhoble, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (Social Service Branch) (basically the vice department, tasked with upholding laws governing public morals) zealously enforces laws and rules.

    3. According to daddy_san:

        a. Dhoble “was just doing his job.”
        b. “India needs … more people who just do their fucking job and do it well. Like ACP Dhoble.”
        c. Criticising Dhoble for his past misdemeanour is like playing the ball and not the man (I think by this daddy_san is implying that Dhoble be criticised for what he is doing wrong now, which is presumably nothing, and not for his past mistakes)
        d. It is the fault of the law and it is the law that must be changed.

  3. Certain actions Dhoble has taken recently:

    1. Closing down an eatery in Bombay because it stayed open past the deadline (as prescribed by the BSEA). While doing this Dhoble, armed with a hockey stick assaulted the manager.

  4. 2. Closed down a bar “Masala Curry” on the charges of it being a front for prostitution along with arresting the hosts, some men and women. 
  5. A little digression regarding the action on “Masala Curry”. Two women who were arrested sued Dhoble for wrongful detention and defamation (they were accused of prostitution). The HC declined to intervene on the grounds of maturity since the matter was being inquired to by a magistrate
  6. The magistrate meanwhile released the women from a reform home to their relatives but did not clear them of the prostitution charges. 
  7. The basis for suspicion of prostitution are:

    1. The women entered for free (what they have not heard about Ladies’ Night?)
    2. The women were not forthcoming about their family background and occupations (what did the magistrate expect? Women going to bars is still frowned upon by society, the women understandably wanted to protect their families from embarrassment)
    3. The party was not a “birthday party” as advertised
    4. There were no producers/directors at the party as claimed (the women claimed they were aspiring actresses who went to the party for networking purposes)

    The important point to note here is that there is no mention of any evidence of any transaction specifically motivated by sex. On such evidence people are accused of prostitution.

  8. Back from the digression.

    My problem with daddy_san’s article is as follows

  9. Daddy_san’s position is that Dhoble was just doing his and doing it well. Unfortunately his job is enforcing bad laws and instead of directing their ire at Dhoble, people would be better served by targeting archaic laws (such as closing times) and thus attacking him for his past deeds (I’ll address this later) is like playing the man and not playing the ball. 
  10. PolvolterDnkymn
    @daddy_san 1. “Play the ball” – Considering that you made an issue of the man’s character why complain when past misdeeds are dredged up?
  11. Daddy_san explicitly brings up character of Dhoble. He states that “India needs …more people who just do their fucking job and do it well. Like ACP Dhoble.” Nobody would disagree with the contention that India needs more people who do their job and do it well and I assume that he would also want people of good (not impeachable maybe) character. But does Dhoble do his job well? Does he have a good character?
  12. PolvolterDnkymn
    @daddy_san People around him have a habit of dying in suspicious circumstances, crucial files re: Dawood are lost, suspended for bribery
  13. 1. In March 1983, a man died under his custody. Dhoble was ultimately acquited by the Supreme Court of killing the man but the SC ordered a police inquiry into the death (the inquiry is still pending).

    2. He was arrested for bribery in 1989. He was suspended on June 8, 1989  and resumed duty on March 27, 1991. (Note: There was no criminal case, so unsure if he was cleared or if he was given a slap on the wrist)

    3. He was involved in the shooting of a peanut vendor, allegedly involved in the mafia, in a “fake encounter”. Matter still pending before the SC

    4. He lost 12 dossiers on the Dawood Ibrahim gang when he was in the Crime Intelligence Unit. He was let off with a warning.

    If Dhoble is is doing his job he is doing it pretty badly.

  14. The second issue I have with daddy_san is his contention that Dhoble should not be blamed because he is just doing his job which is enforcing laws, bad laws in this case. He seems to be making the point that there should be no discretion on the part of the enforcers of the law, because if they are given any discretion they would bend the law for their own benefit (If this interpretation is wrong, I am happy to be corrected). Atleast one commenter agreed with him.

    It’s not a cop’s duty to interpret the law and decide if it’s ass. … In fact, if we ask cops to bring in value judgments before enforcing a law, we’d be asking for another kind of moral policing.

  15. PolvolterDnkymn
    @daddy_san 2. Bad laws: Agreed. But laws aren’t written with 20/20 sight, in certain situations discretion is needed 2 enforce law equitably
  16. Let us review what Dhoble did. The video above shows that Dhoble assaulted an eatery manager while armed with a hockey stick. Yes the law required the eatery to be closed by a certain time. Under the law (an ass in this case) the eatery should have been closed down and the owner and manager punished for the violation. Did the law explicitly state that the manager must not be manhandled? No it didn’t. But that doesn’t mean that Dhoble should manhandle suspects without good reason. He should have exercised his discretion and shut the place down without assaulting people. In fact he could have even allowed the eatery to close down once all the patrons were done. How much more time would that have taken? 30 minutes more? Would allowing those 30 minutes cause a disaster of cataclysmic proportions? The eatery would still be punished for violating the regulations.

    Regarding the Masala curry case, discretion would have been useful. Dhoble did not know for sure that there was prostitution going on. He was given a tip which led to the raid. A raid conducted in a blaze of publicity. Knowing the tendencies of indian society the women would be considered as prostitutes by their neighbours,  whether they were really prostitutes or not, before any trial. Would discretion have been useful? Yes. What if the prostitution case fails?

  17. PolvolterDnkymn
    @daddy_san Dhoble has shown that he does not have any discretion or judgement. He is a robot enforcing the law.
  18. Some laws are written specifying the boundaries of legal behaviour. Does a slight overstepping of the boundary justify punishment? Taken speeding laws. The law prescribes a maximum speed of 100 km/hr. If a driver goes at 101 km/hr should s/he be punished? What if the driver was travelling at 100.5 km/hr? However clearly laws are written they cannot be written with perfect foresight. There is always space for discretion.

    Laws are also legislated at a discrete point in time when a particular set of circumstances are in existence. Nobody knows how the future evolves. Are those circumstances which existed when the law was passed still in existence? Circumstances change all the time and applying the law without any discretion could lead to unjust results. Take the example of the law prohibiting women from working in shops after 8:30 pm. The law was written in 1948 when the prevailing attitude towards women was radically different from what it is now (as a side note: I am sure there is an urban bias in this statement of mine, I have lived in urban areas all my life). Now that women are working independently to support themselves and their families how does a enforcing a law which restricts their employment be just? (As another aside this line of reasoning takes me very close to the living constitution model but I think that constitutions are a contract between the state and the citizens constraining the power of the state. If it must be construed in a way so as to increase that power in derogation to the rights of the citizens then it must be done explicitly via amendment rather than by unelected judges; but this is a discussion for a whole another day)

    My basic point is that there is an inherent uncertainty around a law and its enforcement and that this uncertainty should be construed to the benefit of the people, something like the rule of lenity. But Dhoble’s actions show that every uncertainty is construed so as to hurt the citizen. His interpretation is extraordinarily crabbed with no thought given to whether he could be mistaken or whether the required result could be obtained without thuggishness or embarrassment to the people targeted, people who may not necessarily be guilty and are in fact not guilty until proven so in a trial.

    In conclusion India does not need bad laws and India definitely does not need Dhobles.

  19. On a side note I would like to address the “Nuremberg defence” (Befehl ist Befehl) argument raised by some as a criticism of Dhoble.
  20. greatbong
    @daddy_san Not to invoke Goodwin’s Law, but this following orders was the No 1 rationale at Nuremberg. Didnt save their sorry necks though.
  21. greatbong
    @daddy_san In Germany, they didnt consider “concentration camps” as the ultimate taboo. Just as dragging innocent women as whores isnt
  22. greatbong
    @daddy_san If you havent seen “Judgment at Nuremberg” I urge you to do so. Your entire argument is refuted there.
  23. While I do get the thrust of @greatbong’s argument (after all it is similar to mine) where I part company with it is that the Nuremberg defence was denied because certain orders are so repugnant that it is the moral duty of one not to carry out the order. According to the Nuremberg Principle IV — “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order … does not relieve him from responsibility … provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him“.

    Sending people to their deaths in extermination camps is orders of magnitude more repugnant than enforcing a bad law governing shop closing times badly. The law may be bad but reasonable people may differ as to its badness and how repugnant it is but it does not rise to the level of murder (let alone genocide), though given Dhoble’s track record I am not so sure …

    Interestingly after WW I Germany’s Supreme Court Supreme Court allowed the Nuremberg defence (well technically defence of superior orders, since WWII hadn’t yet taken place) in the trial of Lt. Karl Neumann in the sinking of the hospital ship Dover Castle and in other war crimes trials. The allies were dissatisfied by this verdict which led them to remove the Nuremberg defence before the Nuremberg trials

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

June 27, 2012 at 03:58

Posted in Storify

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