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Plea in SC to re-impose ban on Maharashtra dance bars as it will increase “Crime and Prostitution”

Live Law News Network
23 Nov 2015 4:06 PM GMT
Plea in SC to re-impose ban on Maharashtra dance bars as it will increase “Crime and Prostitution”
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More than a month after the Supreme Court lifted the ban imposed on dance bars in Maharashtra, a social activist moved the apex court today challenging the interim order.

Vinod Patil, the President of R R Patil Foundation said staying the operation of 2014 amendment in the Maharashtra Police Act banning dance performances at bars and some other places would increase crime and prostitution across the state and also result in youth of the state going astray

Seeking withdrawal of the interim order, he contended that the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra did not give adequate hearing to the Maharasthra government before arriving at a decision on the plea by Hotel and Restaurant Associations

Patil said the state government was contemplating to ban dance bars after noticing the negative impact on youngsters, who indulged in selling their ancestral properties, getting astounding prices and showering money in dance bars. It helped exploitation of poor women from profiteering. “State government has received complaints from public about the violation of dignity and depravation, corruption, injury to public morals due to dance bars,” said Patil’s plea.

While lifting the ban, the court however gave authorities full power to crackdown on “indecent” and “obscene” performances

Spelling relief to such bars and hotels totaling nearly 800 which hosted dance performances and gave employment to nearly 80,000 women, the court put on hold a controversial amendment brought in Maharashtra Police Act by inserting a section --33 A-- to close down such places holding that the government had brought back in a different form a provision which was scrapped by the court in 2013.

“However, we add a rider that no performance of dance shall remotely be expressive of any kind of obscenity in any manner. We may hasten to clarify that in the earlier Judgment, it has been clearly stated that sufficient power is vested with the Licensing Authority to safeguard any violation of the dignity of women through obscene dances”, said a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra while hearing a petition filed by Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association which challenged the controversial clause.

The women performed Bollywood-style dance routines in bars, receiving cash tips from patrons apart from their salaries.

Last year, ostensibly to nullify the SC ruling that had paved the way for dance bar owners lift their shutters once again, the Congress-led Maharashtra government had cleared an amendment to plug the legal loophole, which had led the court quash the ban in 2013.

“A large number of imaginative alternative steps could be taken instead of completely prohibiting dancing if the real concern of the State is the safety of women,” the court had said in its 2013 order, while emphasising that the state had failed in establishing that such restrictions would be reasonable or be in the interest of general public.

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