The Maharashtra government has told the Supreme Court that close circuit television cameras would check obscenity and ensure the personal safety of the dance bar girls, while maintaining that as restaurants are public places, installation of CCTV cameras would not violate anyone’s right to privacy.
The state on Monday refused to do away with conditions for granting licenses to dance bars across the state like providing live CCTV feed of performances to police, five days after the top court had called the Devendra Fadnavis government’s move as “absurd” and asked it to review it.
“It needs to be seen that from the point of view of the security and law and order situation, it is necessary to install CCTV cameras in the dance bars. Because of the CCTV cameras, personal safety of the dance bar girls/artists can be secured in case of any untoward incident by quick response by the police machinery,” read the state’s reply to the court’s advice.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra had, on the last hearing, questioned the condition saying it not only impinged on one’s right to privacy but also violated the fundamental right of a dancer to pursue the profession.
It added that the local police will be able to effectively prevent obscenity, which is a paramount concern of the state, with the help of the live feed. Even untoward incidents such as fights between customers can be avoided.
The top court will take up the matter on Tuesday.
The state said the recording shall not violate anyone’s privacy because the dance bars are in restaurants that are defined as public places under the local law. Cameras, it added, are installed above the bar to check the distribution of liquor by bar tenders these days.
“There are many women who feel that this is an avenue for them as they may not be able to do other professions. They have a right to a profession. That right has to be respected. We have to respect that right. It is possible that this is also a source of livelihood for transgenders,” the bench had told additional solicitor general Pinky Anand during the hearing.
The judges told Anand the administration should clamp down obscenity, if there is any, and not view dance as a form of vulgarity. “It is an art and has to be understood as an art bereft of obscenity. If it ceases to be an art, then you can regulate. It seems you haven’t recognised them as artists,” the bench told Anand, who insisted one loses the right to privacy at a public place.
Justice Misra observed “every individual has his own taste, style of eating or drinking and certainly would not like to be photographed or videographed”.