Mumbai Dance Bar License Fee Hiked 100 Times; SC Says Will Not Intervene [Read Order]

The Association of Mumbai dance bar owners and hotels today complained before the Supreme Court that the government had hiked the fee for grant of licenses ordered by the apex court from the earlier 2000 to the two lakh and asked for intervention

But a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said “these are pecuniary decisions and we shall not intervene”.

Senior Advocate Jayant Bhushan appearing for dance bar owners had argued that they were out of work for long and just picking themselves up after the SC nod for opening of dance bars and they could not afford the hiked the amount. But the bench was not inclined to interefere

The state licensing department meanwhile told 64 applications license applications have been received and was being processed.

The bench asked the government to complete the process and grant the licenses within four weeks.

On December 2, the Supreme Court had temporarily allowed those of which had been granted license to carry out their business without implementing some clauses of the new law brought in by the state government, which the apex court found were “weird and ridiculous” like CCTV indance performing areas and ban on serving of liquor.

The bench had said the regulation prohibiting liquor in the dance performing was absurd.

The bench said if the government wanted it could ban liquor in hotels and restaurants across the state but could not single out dance bars for the ban and it was “wrong and arbitrary”.

Maharashtra government defended the new law saying that it was part of their inherent power to police the state.

The bench also once again questioned the government decision to put dance barsunder CCTV surveillance saying it may violate right to privacy of people visiting bars.

The bench however refused to stay the new law and adjourned the case for final hearing to November 24.

The court had on August 30 sought the response of the Maharashtra government on a fresh plea filed by dance bar owners protesting certain new conditions imposed by it.

The bar owners are against the vague definition of “obscenity”, conditions like three year jail prescribed for bar owner if dancer indulges in obscenity, ban on liquor indancing area, mandatory partition between hotel and the dancing area and CCTV in the performing area and restriction of dance performances only till 11:30 while barsare open till 1:30 AM

Appearing for the bar owners, senior lawyer Jayant Bhushan argued that even after repeated order of the bench that unreasonable hurdles should not be placed in the way of bar owners and right to profession of the dancers, they are trying to circumvent each order by bringing new rules through back door

The government  had apparently latched on to the court order on October 15, 2015 which, while lifting the ban on dance bars, had given them full power to crack down on ‘indecent’ and ‘obscene’ performances.

SC has repeatedly been pulling up Maharashtra government for not granting licenses to dance bars citing non-compliance of certain weird conditions and observed that it is better for women to perform then begging on streets or doing something unacceptable for earning livelihood.

The apex court bench sternly asked a DCP (licensing) of Mumbai who had been summoned to the court to “change his mind set. Do not impose prohibition in the garb of regulations”.

“Conditions subsequent cannot be equated with condition precedents. It is better for the women to perform in the dance bars then begging in the street or doing some unacceptable things for livelihood. The state has to protect the women’s dignity at the work place. What is this? Why have you not complied with our order. What certificates you (Maharashtra) want? I had told you last time that you must maintain constitutional cordiality, the bench said while dealing with certain pre-conditions for grant of licenses todance bars like ‘alcohol cannot be served at the place from where performance is watched’,’ no bars within one kilometer of religious structure or educational institutions’ which the judges out rightly rejected.

Read the order here.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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