SC’s Interim Relief For Mumbai Dance Bars
In a big interim relief for dance bars in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court today 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 in dance performing areas and ban on serving of liquor.
This relief is available till November 24 when the matter will come up again and the court will hold a final hearing. A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra 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 bars under 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 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.
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.