Norms meant to protect women’s dignity: Maharashtra defends dance bar law in SC | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Norms meant to protect women’s dignity: Maharashtra defends dance bar law in SC

The Maharashtra government on Saturday defended the new norms regulating dance bars saying that it did not wish to ban these establishments, but wanted to “protect the dignity of women performing dance”.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2016 00:22 IST
Soibam Rocky Singh
The Maharashtra government was responding to a Supreme Court  query on why the new legislation had been brought in.
The Maharashtra government was responding to a Supreme Court query on why the new legislation had been brought in.(HT File Photo)

The Maharashtra government on Saturday defended the new norms regulating dance bars saying that it did not wish to ban these establishments, but wanted to “protect the dignity of women performing dance”.

Responding to the Supreme Court’s query on why the new legislation had been brought in, despite the court striking down an earlier law banning dance bars, the government clarified its stance on several issues, including operational timings and serving of alcohol.

To prevent cases of sexual assault and other offences against women who work at these places, dance bars will be operational from 6 to 11:30 pm, the Maharashtra government said.

“In case the women who perform dance are required to stay back for long hours at night, there may be some untoward incidents which may result in increase in sexual and other offences related to women,” the state government stated in its affidavit.

Read | SC to examine validity of new law on dance bars

The Maharashtra government had banned dance bars in the state in 2005, rendering an estimated 150,000 people — half of them dancers — jobless. The Bombay high court struck down the government order in 2006 but the state challenged it in the Supreme Court, which allowed a stay on grant of licence. The top court upheld the high court ruling in 2013 before finally lifting the ban in October last year.

The Dance Bar Regulation Bill was passed by the Maharashtra assembly on April 13, which included 26 conditions bar owners needed to comply with to get licences.

However, dance bar owners petitioned the Supreme Court, protesting some of the provisions in the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act, 2016.

Read | Dance bar owners move SC against Maharashtra’s obscenity law

One of the provisions being contested is the government’s ban on serving alcohol in bar rooms where dances are staged. The state defended the decision saying once intoxicated, people could cause a disturbance to the performance or to other people in the room.

Instead, it mandated separate rooms, for which a permit is required, where liquor can be served from 6 to 1:30 am.

The government also sought to dismiss the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association’s contention against banning liquor and dance bars within a kilometre radius of educational institutions and religious places such as mosques, temples and churches.

“Intention behind inserting the said rule is not to disturb religious harmony and not to inculcate unethical things in the minds of the students,” the affidavit, filed through standing counsel Nishant R Katneshwarkar, said.

Read | Supreme Court: Dance bars can challenge ‘impossible’ conditions

The state also clarified that it didn’t want the live feed from the security cameras inside dance bars, as earlier stated.

Instead, it insisted that CCTV cameras be installed in all areas of the performing room, and footage be preserved for 30 days in case police needed to investigate an offence committed inside the bar.

The objective of these norms, the government said, is to prevent obscene dance in hotels, restaurants and bar rooms, and thereby protect the dignity and safety of women working there.