While hearing a petition filed by a owner of restaurant and bar in suburban Andheri alleging police harassment, the Bombay high court on Monday asked the state government if it has framed a policy regarding closing timing for hotels and bars in the city.
In his petition, Shaheen Rafique Khan said that the police were disrupting his business by asking him to shut his restaurant by 1am even though he possesses required licence and permission to serve liquor and food till 3am. The court said that if the state government has a policy on hotel timings, it should be put on record.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice RM Sawant made it clear that the state government cannot discriminate between ordinary hotels and bars, and five star hotels by allowing the latter to remain open till 3am.
The court said that the state should consider framing a policy common for all hotels and restaurants.
According to the petitioner, since April this year, the police have been harassing him and forcing him to close his restaurant by 1.30am claiming that he doesn’t have the requisite licence and permission.
Petitioner’s advocate, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, argued that if five star and four star hotels in the city are allowed to run their business till 3am, then why not the other hotels.
The court wanted to know if there was a division between ordinary hotels and bars, and five star hotels.
Kumbhakoni argued that they are entitled to stay open till 3am since they have performance and premises licence, which allows them to stay open till 1.30am and licence under the Shops and Establishments Act, which allows them to operate till 3am.
“The state government should have a policy decision, which is consistent for all hotels and restaurants. It should not be a case specific decision. The state cannot keep five star hotels on one side and others on a different side. The decision should be common for all,” the bench observed. The judges also pointed out that if there is no definite policy, then other hotels will also approach the court with similar grievances.
The court has directed the government to file an affidavit stating if it proposes to formulate a general policy in this issue. The matter has been kept for hearing on October 3.
Earlier too, other hotels and orchestra bars had approached the court alleging highhandedness of the police. Last week, Hotel Sea Princess, a five star premise at Juhu too had approached the high court alleging police harassment to shut down their discotheque.