It was some of Maharashtras outdated laws that lent a patina of legitimacy to Dhobles crusade. For instance, Dhoble invoked an old rule that stated only 10 couples were allowed on a dance floor at one time to raid establishments. Another obscure rule exhumed by Dhoble permits only 78 people in a 500-sq-ft establishment and 166 in a 1,000-sq-ft enclosure. So Dhobles efforts to preserve the moral integrity of Mumbai were technically well within his remit.
Mumbai, of course, creates an enabling environment for such archaic laws to be dug up and used in a context that has far outpaced them, but such absurd pieces of legislation exist on the statute books elsewhere, in the country too. But although India has had several reports by law commissions recommending the repeal of outdated laws passed before 1947, these have gone unimplemented, leaving many forgotten, and repressive, laws on the books for a Dhoble to uncover, much to our consternation. Last year, the UK struck off some 800 laws, some dating to the 14th century, including one covering the Indian Railways. What absurdities might we uncover if we were to undertake a similar exercise