Uma Palace Bar and Restaurant at Mulund, which was in the news five years ago during the investigation into the murder of senior journalist J Dey, is among the 10 erstwhile dance bars in Mumbai that have applied for fresh licenses within a week of the Supreme Court asking the Maharashtra government to approve applications for restarting dance bars.
In an interim order on November 24, the Supreme Court allowed dance bars, which had not been granted license in spite seeking licenses, to submit applications to the government authority concerned. The court said if the applicants stand at par with the three dance bar owners who have already been granted licenses, the competent authority shall consider their applications on the concept of parity.
Sources in the Mumbai police headquarters (HQII) branch, which is the licensing authority for dance bars, told HT that the 10 dance bars are among the 34 that had applied for license earlier. “Now we will examine whether the applicants have followed the guidelines [as has been done by the three dance bars] before issuing licenses,” said a senior officer, requesting anonymity.
As per procedure, senior police inspectors from the police stations under whose jurisdictions the bars are located have been authorised to submit compliance reports to the HQ (II) following inspection of the premises. Only after the receipt of the report, a survey is conducted by the HQ (II) before the dance bar is deemed fit for a license.
The officer, however, said the dance bars would be required to follow the closure deadline of 11.30pm till the Supreme Court’s final hearing on January 11 on the petition filed by the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) against the conditional functioning of the dance bars.
Meanwhile, Adarsh Shetty, president of AHAR, said, “Now that the court has asked the government to revert to conditions applied to dance bars prior to 2005, we are hopeful of the restoration of the old timings [11.30 pm] when the petition is finally disposed of on January 11.”
In May this year, the Mumbai police had given license to Aero Punjab and Sai Prasad bars at Andheri and Indiana bar at Tardeo, with conditions that they would adhere to the rules laid down in the license. In July, AHAR challenged the 37 new conditions the dance bars were required to fulfill to get licences. So strict were the conditions, the petition said, that even two months after the state government issued licenses to the three dance bars, none of them were able to reopen.
The conditions included mandatory installation of CCTV cameras within the dance bar, their locations must be at least a kilometre away from educational or religious institutions, a ban on serving alcohol in the performance area and restrictive timings – 6pm to 11.30pm.
In September, the court, while upholding AHAR’s contention, stated that the bars would operate under the old terms and conditions that allowed CCTV cameras in the entrance and serving liquor in the permit room where performance take place.