Despite the Supreme Court issuing specific orders to the state on September 21, telling it to issue licenses to three dance bars so they can operate according to the old rules, the state government has not yet decided on how to implement this. The home department has asked the law and justice department how to go about this.
The Apex Court had asked the state government to issue licences to the three dance bars — Indiana in Vidyavihar, Classic and LP in Andheri — under the old rules, before the stringent Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act was passed by the Maharashtra government in April. The home department was confused whether to issue licences under the old rules which were repealed while passing the new act. However, the new act was not stayed by the Supreme Court.
Before the state passed the act, the government had framed 26 rules regulating operations in dance bars. The new act, followed by 36 stringent rules, banned liquor in bars, restricted timings to 11.30pm and mandated that the bars maintain a distance of 1km from religious places and educational institutions. The bar owners, in two different cases, challenged old amendments as well as the new act.
“We have not received fresh applications by the bar operators seeking permission to operate. When the court says the licences must be issued according to the old rules, it has neither stayed the new rules nor complied with the old rules when licences have been applied for in the past. We have asked the law and judiciary department for its legal opinion before taking any steps,” said an official from the home department.
The official expressed apprehension over bar owners moving the Apex Court with a contempt petition against the government for not implementing the order.
Bar owners said they were prepared to apprise the court about the state’s failure to implement the orders. “When we asked authorities at the Mumbai police commissionerate, we were told that the government has not decided the means of implementing the order. The next hearings are on November 15 and November 24. We are planning to apprise the court of the state’s failure to implement the order,” said Bharat Thakur, president, dance bar cell of Ahar. Dance Bars
“The licences are to be issued by the police. I am not aware of the current status,” said Dr Vijay Satbir Sing, additional chief secretary, home.
The state has decided to submit a fresh affidavit defending its stringent rules framed under the new law. “The court kept the petition for final disposal on November 24. We have decided to submit a fresh affidavit defending all our 37 conditions including distance, ban on liquor and timings. We are confident that the new act will be upheld by the Supreme Court,” another official said.