Grant licences to dance bars in 2 weeks: Supreme Court tells Maharashtra


Observing that dance is a respectable concept in India and women can’t be barred from earning livelihood by dancing, the Supreme Court (SC) asked the Maharashtra government to implement its order granting licences to restaurant owners in two weeks. The court questioned the state government’s arguments on morality to ban dance bars and asked the Devendra Fadnavis government to regulate obscenity, too.  

Expressing displeasure over the state government’s delay in implementing its direction, a Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said: “Dance is a respectable concept in India and how can women be barred from earning livelihood by performing dance?”

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Maharashtra, said that any direction of the court will be respected and adhered to. The Bench, meanwhile, allowed Vinod Patil, president of the R R Patil Foundation, to intervene in the matter. Patil, in his plea, had claimed that reopening dance bars would increase crime.

On October 15, the Bench stayed an amended law, Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Act, passed by the Maharashtra Assembly, banning dance bars. Restaurant owners had challenged the amendment, arguing that the state was thwarting the intention of the court. The top court concurred, observing that although it had set aside a similar provision, the law had been brought back in a new manner.

Nearly 1,500 bars across Maharashtra had employed more than 75,000 women dancers before the state government first imposed the ban in 2005. The Maharashtra Assembly first passed the law that year enabling the ban, which the Bombay High Court (HC) struck down as “unconstitutional” in 2006.

The state government approached the SC against the HC’s judgment and the matter was decided in July 2013, with the top court, too, rejecting the ban. The state assembly had, on June 13 last year, passed the Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Bill, which prevented licences for dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels. The ban also covered drama theaters, cinema halls, auditoriums, sports clubs and gymkhanas, where entry is restricted only to members.




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