The Supreme Court today 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 in dancing 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 bars are 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
A bench of Justice Dipak misra and Justice C Nagappan gave Maharasthra government six weeks to file reply.
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.
COMPARISON WITH LEGAL PROFESSION
At one stage Maharashtra government protested Bhushan indirectly comparing bar dancers profession to the legal and doctors profession. Bhushan was agitating one condition put by government that bar dancers cannot be going to various bars but should be an employee of one particular bar. He had asked can such restrictions be placed on lawyers and doctors that they cannot appear for various clients or appear for whoever they want
Senior lawyer or can doctors be tied to a particular hospital. Naphade appearing for Maharashtra government said the comparison was “absurd”
Naphade said even then there was restriction as those lawyers appearing for government or cannot accept private briefs.
Appearing for bar dancers association, senior lawyer Rajeev Dhawan said bar dancers cannot be kept captive in one bar and “they had a right to perform in various bars”
The Supreme Court had earlier pulled up the 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.