The Bombay High Court admonished police in India this week for their overzealousness when they busted a 49-year old man for drinking tea in a “suspicious” way.
"This is bewildering,” the court said. “We were unaware that the law required anyone to give an explanation for having tea, whether in the morning, noon or night.”
It was actually morning when Vijay Patil grabbed a quick half-glass of chai tea from a street vendor in the western India city of Kolhapur on February 22. When the cops approached Patil and asked him why he was chugging his tea, well, suspiciously, they didn’t like his answer. So they locked him up.
Patil was drinking the tea very quickly and making loud chugging noises. Drinking a half-glass of tea is known as “cutting chai.”
Prosecutors argued that the law in India allows the police to preemptively arrest someone whom they believe is about to commit a crime. But Justice Gautam Patel wasn’t buying that explanation. It was true that Patil did have 113 priors -- but they were all, but one, on gambling offenses -- and none of the cases against him resulted in convictions.
Even if they had, Patel ruled, police would not have been justified in arresting the man for his unusual manner of consuming tea.
One might take tea in a variety of ways, not all of them always elegant or delicate, some of them perhaps even noisy. But we know of no way to drink tea 'suspiciously,'" he ruled. "Cutting chai is permissible, cutting corners with the law is not."
SOURCES: Times of India, BBC News