The Supreme Court directed the state on Thursday to issue licences to dance bars under the old rules framed in 2014. The state government said it would follow the orders, but the bars will have to comply with all the rules. Dance bar owners said they could start business in 10 days once they were issued licences by the government.
Dance bar owners have challenged the ban imposed by the state government on the bars in 2015 in the Supreme Court.
The state home department has already received as many as 38 applications from bar owners in Mumbai for permission to operate dance bars. But the government is likely to insist on compliance of all the 26 norms under the 2014 rules. The norms include installing CCTV cameras outside bars, compliance of fire safety norms, maintaining a distance between the dancers and patrons, among others.
“We will have to take a decision on the 38 applications following the directives of the apex court and as per the old rules framed under the amended Maharashtra Police Act before the next hearing,” said KP Bakshi, additional chief secretary, home. The next hearing is scheduled on January 11.
The bar owners on Thursday claimed the dance bars could start operating within a week or 10 days once the government issues the licences.
“After getting licences, we will put the SC order on bar entrances so people and authorities will know about the directive. However, the government has not yet defined indecency, which is the only concern for us,” said Adarsh Shetty, president of Indian Hotels and Restaurants’ Association (AHAR).
“Indecency is a generalised term and needs to be defined without leaving it to enforcement authorities to decide. We are ready for any revision if the government desires to bring in changes in the operations. It could be sorted out amicably,” said Shetty.
Three dance bars — Indiana in Vidyavihar, Classic and LP in Andheri —have already been granted the licences subject to the compliance of 26 conditions.
The state government officials said they have not been able to start operations. “The SC has not scrapped our 36 rules framed as per Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act. The hearing on them will begin on January 11 and our endeavour would be to see that the bars do not start operations until then,” another official from the department said.