Restaurants and bars will be allowed to stay open until 5am on New Year's eve, the Bombay high court said on Tuesday.
Two groups of hoteliers had moved the court on Monday after the police refused to allow restaurants and bars to stay open beyond 1.30am.
The 1.30am deadline overruled a government order dated December 19 that extended the deadline to 5am.
”There is in my opinion no valid reason to clamp down on what little is left of this city's once thriving social and night life,” said justice Gautam Patel in his order on Tuesday morning.
Government counsel D Nalawade had submitted that in view of a threat perception to the city, the safety of women and inadequate police personnel, the government was against extending the deadline.
The court tore into his submission on women's safety. “Are you trying to tell me that women are in greater danger on the 31st?” asked justice Patel.
“Did the Shakti Mills incident happen on the 31st? What is the anecdotal evidence that the 31st is more dangerous for women?” he asked.
Nalawade pointed out that SIMI activists had fled from Madhya Pradesh and there were inputs that there were threat perceptions especially for Mumbai.
“You are using a hammer to kill an ant,” said justice Patel in response to the threat perception argument.
The petitioners had argued that it was unfair that while there were curbs on them, five-star hotels and clubs were being allowed to stay open.
”Every year there has been no problem,” said Veena Thadhani, counsel for Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR).
“We have made preparations and we have purchased stocks,” she said.
The court however said that the hotels and restaurants would have to make their own safety and security arrangements inside and outside their establishments. They would also have to abide by noise pollution regulations.
Another petition from the group on extending the deadline for playing music indoors was also subsequently allowed by the court.
Though such permission was granted in 2010, it was not in 2011 and 2012.
While outdoor music will have to finish by 12 midnight, establishments will be allowed to play music indoors till 5am while observing noise restrictions.