Stressing that the safety of residents comes first, the Chandigarh Police have expressed their opposition to the idea of extending the closing hours for city’s bars, clubs, discotheques and restaurants the owners of which along with some officials of the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation (CITCO) had been lobbying to get extended beyond midnight.
The administration is unlikely to go against the police department’s stance in this case. Some officials of the UT administration, which is drafting its new excise policy that will be out soon, had also been pressing for this, it has been learnt.
In 2015, the timings for closing bars, discotheques and restaurants were brought to midnight from 2am. CITCO, which owns hotels such as Hotel Mountview and Shivalikview in city, has been citing loss in revenues after the decision came into effect.
Some officials have argued that a liberal nightlife bodes well for the modern outlook of the city. The owners of eateries and discotheques claim to have lost much of their business to the neighbouring SAS Nagar and Panchkula where restrictions are not as tough.
“For us, the safety of the residents is paramount. We shouldn’t compromise on that even if there is loss of a few crore of rupees,” UT director general of police (DGP) Tajender Luthra told Hindustan Times.
In the past, the police have been taking a tough stand against these bar and restaurant owners and those officers who have been rooting for extending their timings.
But their stance seems to have toughened after some incidents of crime in the late night hours, especially the one wherein Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife’s nephew Akansh Sen was run over by a BMW car in Sector 9 last month. A couple of incidents of firing have also taken place at night in the recent days in the city.
Vipul Dua, a city-based hotelier, said, “We have lost 30 per cent of our business since this rule came into effect. We’ve been taking it up with the administration, but to no avail.”
“Why not have tougher laws against those drinking and driving and tougher enforcement? What all can you stop in the name of law and order?” said Manmohan Singh, another hotelier.
Timing capped in 2015 after HC order
In 2015, the Punjab and Haryana high court had taken a strong exception to the rising crime and accidents late at night and had insisted that the administration must adopt some “benchmark for running of hotels and discos”. After this, the administration directed that all clubs, discotheques, bars and restaurants must close by midnight against the earlier timing of 2am on weekends.