Even as the Centre moves towards a model law to allow cinema halls, restaurants and other shops to be open 24x7, the deputy commissioner here on Thursday reaffirmed the midnight closure rule.
A discussion on going back to the pre-April deadline of 1 am was denied by DC Ajit Balaji Joshi a day after HT revealed that a proposal in this regard has been prepared for the UT administrator.
After the matter had reached court, the UT administration had prepared the policy — Controlling of Places of Public Amusement 2016 — that came into effect in April. It faced criticism from business owners and the public over imposing restrictions on social life. The proposal to revert to 1am is in line with the administration’s commitment to review the policy.
The midnight deadline also meant that the partying business went to neighbouring SAS Nagar and Panchkula, where there are hardly any checks and officials remain unsure if there is even a policy.
Discotheques representatives claim their weekend sales have reduced to half, and the gainers were new night clubs in Zirakpur that operate till the wee hours. They also cite that Delhi has a deadline of 1am.
Manish Goel, owner of Swagath restaurant and bar in Sector 26, and other such establishments, said, “We feel the Centre’s move towards 24x7 opening hours is a positive step. But Chandigarh is still confined to the old school of thought. Timings of not only discotheques but shopping malls and other shops should also be extended.”
Vipul Dua of Peddlers pub and restaurant added, “Chandigarh is looked up to by people from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, who want to go out and enjoy with friends and families. The curtailment results in revenue loss too.”
UT home secretary Anurag Agarwal had said days after the policy came under fire that “we are open to reviewing the policy”. And he specifically talked of the deadline: “I have got certain suggestions and representations that the timings should be increased from midnight to 1 am. We are in the process of considering that.”
Since then, officials and business owners have had meetings, where the deadline came up for discussion, as HT learnt from representatives from both sides who sought anonymity since the final decision was not taken.
But the DC on Thursday claimed no such policy regarding allowing discotheques to remain open up to 1 am was discussed in any meeting or reviewed. “The policy will be followed in letter and spirit,” he said. According to sources, at the meeting, it was discussed that the deadline extension would be permitted only if owners of such establishments submit a monthly report on any incidents of violence on their premises along with CCTV footage.