“Most thoughtful people would agree that morality in the absence of policing is somehow more truly moral than the kind of false morality that vanishes as soon as the police go on strike or the spy camera is switched off”.                                              

-Richard Dawkins-


India is considered a developing country. Yes, it is indeed a developing one with regard to infrastructure or developmental projects. It has many projects or future plans to provide all facilities to people. The real question that still prevails is whether it is a progressive state with regard to people. People in India are still stuck in the 1900s in their thoughts and behavior. This is not the case for everyone but it is for most of the population. Every single person has a view or opinion regarding anything which they hear or see. When people react on it, it affects others who are part of it. This is what moral policing is all about. People getting involved in others activities and their lives


Women or girls are not supposed to meet boys or even talk to them, this is the concept since time immemorial. Girls should not talk to boys or be friends with them. This is usually frowned upon. Moral police is an umbrella category of vigilante groups which act to enforce a code of morality[1] There is a constant need of people to control the way girls behave or live in the society. When that tags along with boys, moral policing happens. Moral policing is based on the ideas of religious belief, cultural practices or sometimes even on the basis of laws, rules and regulations. In most cases, moral policing is aimed towards having a good society where pure cultural and religious practices are not polluted by any foreign influences. [2]



India is still considered a patriarchal society. Women do exist and work fro in all spheres of life. They are questioned in every move they make. People think they have control over women or can take control over them. There already exists a large number of ways in which women are discriminated as against men in India. In a family, Women are considered as the ‘preservers of the family’s dignity’.Hence, when the girl child has premarital sex or even has a relationship, it is generally shunned by the family first and then the society. In that case, the only thought is ‘what will people say’. Parents or people, in general, are more worried and concerned about what society thinks and not about their child’s happiness or goodwill. Women occupy about half the population in India. The oppression of women is one of the major problems. They are suppressed in a large number of ways. Oppression is not something that was just started one day, it is something that women all over the world have faced since time immemorial in different forms and from different people. In India, male domination with a complementary suppression of women has been continuing since pre-historic times. Moral policing is a part of oppression. Just like oppression, moral policing also comes in different forms and types. Women are deemed to be the “preserves of culture and heritage’ in the society. The target of moral policing is any activity that is deemed to be immoral or against Indian culture[3] In general context, when a girl walks around in a pair of shorts, people looked an talk about her. When a girl has different hair color or a tattoo, it is a topic of discussion. When men do the same thing nobody seems to care. It is the way that people perceive things that has to change. When a girl dresses up or does something different, it is always viewd with suspicion. When random people think that they have the right to act against it, it is moral policing.

There are several self-defense groups in India that claim to: To protect the so-called Indian culture. them They resist and limit the social notions they think of. respect made abroad western culture. they desecrate public places They attacked people in clubs, taverns and parks. There were various cases In a fairly aggressive vigilante group Many art exhibitions were forced to close. They believed their “culture” was portrayed. with obscene light. They issued an order against Western-style dress. Several journalists also Such meetings supported their actions. Some government officials supported this. Perspectives and such activities in the process.

There were a number of videos circulated online regarding moral policing in India. In those videos, a girl is seen walking or sitting a boy talking. People in the area may not like to look of it and try to take law in their own hands. They talk to them in a harsh manner or even hit and make them go away. They have no right to do that. These boys and girls have a right to sit wherever they want no matter the relationship between them. They can do whatever they want. In a world where live in relationships are legal and even sex work is illegal that should be the least of their concerns. They must care about them and their own families and not what others do. Indians have a great loathe towards gossip and rumours that had led to this. When they see a girl and boy together, the first thought might be regarding their relationship status. I have heard stories regarding places that would ask if people are married or engaged if they are seen booking a room or staying together.

A country which is praised and lauded for its education system worldwide is also known for supporting and employing Moral vigilante groups inside the campus of their educational institutions to keep a check on the activities of their students or more so for maintaining the gauge of the ‘moral compass.’ Some colleges have gone to the extent of trying to dictate what kind of clothes that can be worn by the female students on the campus, sometimes putting a stop on skirts and jeans too. India is a democracy but it is the events like these which make us question the whole framework of the society and its limited understanding of the changing times. It crosses all the limits when these colleges appointed moral police retorts to aggression to prove their point, beating up children, or scaring them and coercing them, even extorting money at times. Children as small as age 10 or so are being conditioned to change as the way the society thinks. They want them to be the way the society wants them to be . This only applies to girls .


When any person is subjected to such moralicing, they might not know regarding the various ways by which they can approach the problem. There is a lack of awareness regarding it. So

In India, the Sections 292 to 294 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), 1860 utilized to manage obscenity. The greater part of these laws goes back to 1860.  Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code deals with sale and distribution of obscene books and other material. It criminalizes materials like books and sketches in the event that it is esteemed to be “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest” Section 292 was revised in 1969 to exclude materials that are for public good (like condom advertisements, scientific material, art and religious figures). Police likewise utilize Section 292 of the IPC to record cases against film posters and advertisement hoardings that are deemed to be “indecent”. The Section 293 deals with the sale of obscene material to individuals under 20. [4]The Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code deals with “obscene acts and songs” and it expresses that: Whoever, to the annoyance of others—

(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or

(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.[5]

If anyone tries to restrains any person in any way or the other, be it a guy or a girl they can try to invoke section 341 IPC . Section 341 IPC states about the Punishment for wrongful restraint-

Whoever wrongfully restrains any person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.[6]

Sometimes when a boy and girl are seen walking together or talking or even when they are spending some alone time, people may not be okay with it and they might have an opinion about it. They might even try hitting them or try to teach them not ot be alone that way. When that is the situation, they can invoke Section 152 IPC which states about assault or criminal force other than on grave provocation.

Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person otherwise than on grave and sudden provocation given by that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

Explanation.—Grave and sudden provocation will not mitigate the punishment for an offence under this section, if the provocation is sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for the offence, or if the provocation is given by anything done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant, in the lawful exercise of the powers of such public servant, or

if the provocation is given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence. Whether the provocation was grave and sudden enough to mitigate the offence, is a question of fact.[7]

There are many times when moral policing hinders the basic fundamental rights of the citizen enshrined in the constitution such as Article 19  and Article 21 right to freedom of speech & expression, right to privacy, right to live with dignity, etc.These are some of the important and possible legal remedies for moral policing in India.



Me, being a college student in Kerala have heard stories and even had experiences of moral policing. There are always a bunch of uncles or aunts who are generally jobless and spend their time looking at people usually in their twenties. They always have something to say about them. It might be the dress I’m wearing, the tattoo I have or even the hair color. They want me to the way they want me to be. I know people who still ask around “ what will people say” or “what will society think”. They try to limit themselves or restrain themselves from friendships and relationships due to this reason. It is way past time to become progressive and not think about what others have to say.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_police

[2] https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/moral-policing/

[3] https://www.iasexpress.net/moral-policing-in-india-for-upsc-ias-gk/

[4] https://amity.edu/UserFiles/aibs/59afArticle-V%20(Page%2050-53).pdf

[5] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/594493/

[6] https://www.indiacode.nic.in/show-data?actid=AC_CEN_5_23_00037_186045_1523266765688&orderno=381#:~:text=Whoever%20wrongfully%20restrains%20any%20person,hundred%20rupees%2C%20or%20with%20both.

[7] https://www.indiacode.nic.in/show-data?actid=AC_CEN_5_23_00037_186045_1523266765688&orderno=392#:~:text=Whoever%20assaults%20or%20uses%20criminal,hundred%20rupees%2C%20or%20with%20both.


This article is written by Roshni S, 4th year BA.LLB, Kerala Law Academy Law College

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