Iran's morality police, which is tasked with enforcing the country's Islamic dress code, is being disbanded, the country's attorney general said, according to a media report.
Attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri's comments, yet to be confirmed by other agencies, were made at an event on Sunday, BBC reported.
Jafar Montazeri was quoted as saying that the country's Guidance Patrol would be abolished. He also said he would placed under review the rules on women having to wear hijabs in public.
However, a state media agency refuted this statement. It suggested that Montazeri had spoken out of turn, and that any disbandment of the morality police falls under the jurisdiction of the interior ministry, TMZ reported.
Months of Protests
Iran has seen months of protests over the death of a young woman in custody, the report said. Mahsa Amini had been detained by the morality police for allegedly breaking strict rules on head coverings.
Montazeri was at a religious conference when he was asked if the morality police was being disbanded.
"The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up," he said.
Control of the force lies with the interior ministry and not with the judiciary.
On Saturday, Montazeri also told the Iranian parliament the law that requires women to wear hijabs would be looked at, BBC reported.
Even if the morality police is shut down this does not mean the decades-old law will be changed.
Women-led protests, labelled "riots" by the authorities, have swept Iran since 22-year-old Amini died in custody on September 16, three days after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran.
Her death was the catalyst for the unrest but it also follows discontent over poverty, unemployment, inequality, injustice and corruption, BBC reported.
If confirmed, the scrapping of the morality police would be a concession but there are no guarantees it would be enough to halt the protests, which have seen demonstrators burn their head coverings.
Iran has had various forms of 'morality police' since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but the latest version - known formally as the Gasht-eErshad - is currently the main agency tasked enforcing Iran's Islamic code of conduct.
They began their patrols in 2006 to enforce the dress code which also requires women to wear long clothes and forbids shorts, ripped jeans and other clothes deemed immodest, BBC reported.
(With Inputs from IANS)