Nearly eight years after they were banned by the state government, Mumbai's famous dance bars are set to reopen. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the right of an estimated 75,000 bar dancers to pursue their profession.
The 2005 ban, championed by state home minister and NCP leader RR Patil, barred girls from dancing in bars and restaurants but interestingly allowed it in hotels with a rating of three stars or above.
Upholding the Bombay high court order of 2006 that quashed the Maharashtra government's 2005 decision to ban dancing in beer bars and restaurants, a bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice SS Nijjar also vacated the stay order granted on the state government's plea challenging the HC verdict.
The state government had contended that prostitution rackets were being run under the garb of beer bars and indecent and vulgar performances "derogatory to the society".
The apex court also rejected the state's contention that the practice of showering money on girls dancing in banned establishment encouraged girls to indulge in unhealthy competition to create and sustain sexual interest of favoured customers.
"We are unable to accept the presumption that the enjoyment of same kind of entertainment by the upper classes leads only to mere enjoyment and in the case of poor classes; it would lead to immorality, decadence and depravity. Morality and depravity cannot be pigeon-holed by degrees depending upon the classes of the audience," the bench added.
It, however, asked the state to re-consider a high-level committee's recommendations of not allowing the girls to wear 'provocative' clothing. The panel also recommended installation of a three-foot high railing adjacent to the dance stage and a distance of five feet between the railing and seats for customer.
Tuesday's verdict has not gone down well with any of the political parties and just hours after the verdict, Patil said the government would file a review petition.