In a last-ditch attempt to keep the ban on dance bars in Maharashtra — the Supreme Court had lifted the ban in an interim order in October — the state government has said it will file a fresh affidavit in the top court, and highlight how reopening the bars will give rise to “social ills”.
The decision to file the fresh affidavit comes even as the state has started framing rules to govern how dance bars function, if the ban is fully lifted.
At the time of the October hearing, the state submitted an affidavit, in which it said the dance bars had a negative impact on the youth and the dignity of women working in the bars had been compromised.
The new affidavit, the state said, is likely to stress further on the need for the ban for “the good of society”. The state will file it in the next few weeks. The SC will next hear the case in February 2016.
“The Apex Court, in its order, has quoted provisions of the fundamental rights of the women working in the bars, when it struck down the ban. The fresh affidavit will mention all schemes the government chalked out to rehabilitate these women after the ban was imposed about ten years ago,” said an officer from the home department. “We will also point out how the scheme had no takers from the jobless workers, as they used to make much more money in the bars.”
To bolster its case, the state said it will include examples from Mumbai and Navi Mumbai to show how the bars drew the youth to splurge all of their savings.
A concrete example, the state said, is that of youngsters from the local Agri community of Navi Mumbai. The official said many of these families got handsome compensation during land acquisition, but allegedly lost it and their ancestral property as they spent it on dance bars. The affidavit will also point out that the bars led to the rise of diseases such as AIDS and cases of road accidents.
Sources said the state legislature and all political parties had backed the ban, which is why the government is going the extra mile to keep them closed.
Vivekanand Patil, a former Panvel MLA, who had first raised the issue in the Assembly in 2004, said, “There are many ill-effects of the dance bars. Besides the loss of money, the rate of AIDS among the youth was huge. The social life of the women living near the bars was affected. Hundreds of families thanked us for banning dance bars in 2005.”
“We have appointed senior counsels to represent the Maharashtra government in the SC. With their consultation and suggestions, the fresh affidavit will be submitted,” said Vijay Satbir Singh, principal secretary, home.
The Supreme Court, while lifting ban, had directed the state to also clear pending applications for permission to run the business.
Meanwhile, the government has started framing stringent rules for bars that want to reopen.
“We are planning to make installation of CCTV cameras that send a live feed to the local police station. The SC has upheld our powers to regulate these activities and ensure no obscenity is promoted. We will also ban the showering of money as it is an insult to the national currency. Restricting the number of dancers on the floor and increasing the distance to be maintained by visitors are some other rules,” the home department official said.