The Maharashtra government has justified its new law to ban dance bars in the state, saying it was done to protect the “culture of Maharashtra, dignity of women and stop the exploitation of poor women for profiteering”.
In an affidavit filed on October 16, a day after the Supreme Court gave its interim order lifting the ban and paving the way for the comeback of such bars after a decade, the state said it reintroduced the law because the existing rules were insufficient to prevent social problems such as indecency, obscenity and exploitation of women there.
It denied allegations that the promulgation in 2014 was done to evade the top court’s verdict, which in 2013 quashed a similar law.
It said the state can legislate in public interest notwithstanding the constitutional right that gives freedom to take up any profession.
“It is submitted that the state government was contemplating to ban the dance bars after noticing the negative impact on youngsters, who indulged in selling their ancestral property and showering money in dance bars,” read the official affidavit.
Curtains were brought down on dance bars after Maharashtra amended the law in 2005. However, the ban was restricted to only “eating house, permit room and beer bar”.
Performances continued in three-star and above hotels and “elite establishments.” In 2013, the SC struck down the law, terming it discriminatory.
It upheld the Bombay high court’s verdict where the law was challenged for the first time. The top court held the constitution endowed the freedom to take up a profession. However, a year later, the state under the Congress regime brought the law — this time banning dance bars in all the segments of a restaurant.