Mumbai police reject 80 per cent dance bar applications for fresh licence
Meanwhile, dance bar owners said that the police were making excuses to reject their applications.mumbai Updated: Apr 19, 2017 22:12 IST
Applications of nearly 80 per cent of the dance bars, which had applied for a fresh license following a Supreme Court order in November last year, have been rejected by the Mumbai police, even as the hearing on the contentious issue of allowing dance bars to operate in Maharashtra is scheduled to resume in the Apex Court on Thursday.
A senior Mumbai police official told HT on Monday that following the SC ruling on November 24—asking the government to consider granting license to dance bars if they stood at a par with the three dance bars that have already been granted license, on the concept of parity—the police had received 76 applications, till a fortnight ago.
Of those, 60 applications have been rejected following inspection of their premises by senior inspectors of police stations in the areas where the bars are located. “The senior inspectors have been authorized to conduct checks to find out whether the applicants have fulfilled the 26 conditions imposed by the government, and file a compliance report before the Theatre branch, which issues the license. These conditions have been approved by the Supreme Court,” the official said, adding that reports on the 16 remaining applications are likely to be received before the matter was heard in SC on April 20.
Meanwhile, a dance bar owner, whose application is pending for approval, said that the police were just not interested in issuing licenses and are making excuses to reject applications. “To ensure fairness, we are going to urge the Court to appoint an independent authority, instead of police, to conduct inspection of our premises and file the compliance report before the court,” said the bar owner, requesting anonymity.
Sources said that failure to follow conditions like maintaining a distance of five feet distance between customers and performance area, less than 3 feet height of the barricades around the performance, improper installation of CCTV cameras were mostly the reasons attributed for rejection of the applications.
Apart from fulfilling the 26 conditions, the police also asked the bars to obtain a fire compliance certificate from the city fire brigade, a move which has been assailed by the bar owners as another pretext to deny license.
Following n SC order in December 2015 to clear licenses to dance bars, the state government came out with a set of 26 conditions in the license to regulate the functioning of the dance bars. The conditions included sharing live feed of the dancing area with the local police station, no serving of alcohol in the area where dance was performed, 11.30 pm closure time among other things.
The police administration, through an order, asked senior police inspectors at police stations to conduct an audit of the bars which had applied for license in their respective jurisdiction to verify if they had followed the conditions. The licenses were to be allotted only after the receipt of a positive compliance report from the local police.
The process of audit ran into a controversy after it was found that four police officers from as many police stations had prepared false compliance reports even though the applicant bars had not adhered to the police conditions. These police men—three inspectors and an assistant police inspector (API)—were suspended by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis subsequently.