While the dance bar owners with provisional licences postponed reopening their bars owing to a lack of clarity over the rules, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday clarified the government’s stand on the issue. He said the bars can open only after fulfilling the conditions set by the government within the 60-day deadline.
“We have specifically mentioned in the licence that owners of dance bars will have to comply with all the conditions and after an inspection by the authority concerned, they will be allowed to start their operations. If they are ready to fulfil the conditions, then the government has no objection in allowing their functioning,” said Fadnavis.
His statement came at a time when dance bar owners were seeking clear instructions from authorities over the functioning of dance bars. They were claiming they have been allowed to start operations as per the old rules.
Following t he Supreme Court’s directives, the state government last week issued conditional licences to three of the eight dance bar owners who had approached the apex court.
The owners wanted to start their business this week, but adopted a wait-and-watch policy because they wanted clarity on which rules need to be followed. They had said they wouldn’t be able to run the business if they had to follow the new rules framed by the government.
Bharat Thakur, president, Dance Bars Association, said they are waiting for a detailed Supreme Court order to get some clarity. “We have some confusion on which rules [new or old] need to be followed,” said Thakur. “There is no way we can operate under the new rules because they are framed to dissuade us from restarting our business,” said Thakur. “Two hotels did not pay the DD because there was no point in getting licences if we are not going to start soon,” he said.
The government had first formulated 26 rules in December last year to monitor the functioning of dance bars. Some of them were later scrapped by the Supreme Court. In April, a new law was enacted by the state government to regulate dance bars and the it is now insisting dance bars function according to this law. It insisted the new law was being enacted to prevent obscenity.
The licence issued to dance bars by the Mumbai police last week clearly says, “This licence has been issued pursuant to the specific order dated 10/05/2016 by the Honorable Supreme Court of India and subject to the further order which may be passed by the court. This licence has been issued subject to the compliance to those terms and conditions mentioned in the ‘Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotel, Restaurant and Bar Rules and Protection of Women (Working therein) Rule, 2016, which are covered by the Supreme Court’s order.” The licence further stated if such terms and conditions as prescribed in the aforesaid rules 2016 are not complied within 60 days, the licence shall stands revoked.