The Bombay High Court has ruled that women dancing provocatively in scant attire or making gestures are not obscene or immoral acts that could annoy or bother someone. An FIR against five men was quashed by a division bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki Menezes under section 294 (obscenity) of the IPC, as well as sections of the Maharashtra Police Act for indecency in public and the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949.About the caseThe police filed a FIR after executing a raid at a banquet hall of a resort and water park where six women were allegedly found dancing in short skirts while the applicants showered money on them. In the case, the men and the women both were booked.Progressive stance on obscenityThe bench stated that it was aware of the overall moral standards prevalent in contemporary Indian society, but that it is now extremely usual and acceptable for women to wear such clothing, or to be seen in swimming costumes or other exposing attire. This style of attire is frequently seen in films that have passed censorship or during beauty pageants presented in broad public view, without causing displeasure to any audience. Surely, the provisions of IPC section 294 would not apply to all of this, the court added.The court stated that it would take a progressive stance in the subject and refused to come to a decision basis on what would constitute obscenity in the hands of police officers. The applicants lawyer, Akshay Naik, contended that Section 294 of the IPC was not violated because there was no indication of anyone, including the complainant, being irritated by the dancing girls. Furthermore, simply because a police officer thought what he observed was obscene did not render the act illegal.Applicability of Section 294 of the IPCAdditional Public Prosecutor S. S. Doifode for the State submitted a police affidavit claiming that the raid was carried out based on a secret in information obtained from a member of the public annoyed by the dance.The court stated that for an offence to be made out under Section 294 of the IPC, the following conditions must be met: (i) the act must be done in a public place; (ii) the act must be obscene; and (iii) the act must cause annoyance to others. While the acts were committed in a public setting, the bench determined that they were neither indecent nor inconvenient to anyone.