The Maharashtra government should show leniency in implementing dress code for women orchestra artistes performing in dance bars, observed the Bombay high court on Friday.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Amjad Sayed questioned the government about the new dress code proposed by them, which says that women artistes should not wear “tight/revealing/transparent” clothes.
A draft proposal submitted by additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande said: “Women artistes should not be allowed to wear dresses, which will expose their body in any way or dresses which are very tight/revealing/transparent. Use obscene or indecent language or any indecency of dress, dance or gesture should not be allowed”. Justice Majmudar said: “You (government) have put so many restrictions. Not allowing them (women artistes) to expose is understood, but what about tight clothes? Even pants can also be tight (fitting).”
Reminding the government of Article 14 [right to equality] of the Constitution of India, the high court said that the rules should be framed keeping Article 14 in mind.
One of the 38 guidelines, proposes that customers should not be allowed to shower currency notes on women artistes.
Deshpande argued that the guideline was framed to protect the dignity of women artistes and for their safety and security. To which justice Majmudar said: “Basically, character of man needs to change. We need to show more respect towards women. Let the culture of our country also prevail.”
RD Soni, petitioners’ advocate, argued that the police intimidate customers by sitting inside the bar for hours. Police even harass bar owners to close the bar by 9.30pm, even when the permissible limit is till 1.30am, said Soni, adding that policemen often come and sit for hours on the pretext of keeping a tab on bars.
Deshpande said that policemen go to bars to keep a check on nefarious activities. He, however, said that he would ask senior police officials to look into the allegations. “If officials are required to go to such hotels as part of their job, they should go in civil clothes,” said justice Majmudar.
Expressing concern over safety of women artistes, the court asked the government to consider directing bar owners to provide escort to women artistes, who end up working post midnight.
Deshpande informed the court that the government has invited suggestions and objections over the proposed guidelines from the public at large, after which the rules will be framed.