By Maya Palit
If you think the phrase ‘moral turpitude’ belongs in a Jane Austel novel, you might have a bone to pick with a former Director General of Police. DGP Neelmani isn’t sure that a 22-year-old woman constable trainee — who was suspended in January for becoming pregnant while being unmarried — should have been reinstated earlier this week.
The woman, based out of Rohtas district, Bihar, had been suspended by her commandment at the Bihar Military Police three months ago, and he had claimed that her pregnancy was evidence of her committing an ‘immoral act’. She had her pregnancy terminated, but now we’re told a ‘jury’ (comprising retired or old fogey police offers) is feeling iffy about whether her suspension should have been revoked.
According to Neelmani, only married women are entitled to maternity leave from their training, but it doesn’t apply to this woman. He was also quoted saying that departmental proceedings could be initiated against the woman for moral turpitude, which is defined in criminal law as an act that violates accepted community standards, which is punishable in government departments.
Thankfully, another former DGP had the good sense to suggest that they weren’t in a position to object to consensual sex between adults, but that came with a tangiental caveat too — some spiel about how the question of morality could be brought up by a spouse if it was a case of adultery, but wasn’t relevant in this particular scenario. Whatever decision these DGPs finally arrive at after their ruminations on pregnancy and morality, it hopefully won’t be one that will jeopardise this woman’s career.