Will bring ordinance on dance bars, if needed: Maharashtra
The Maharashtra government on Friday said that, if needed, an ordinance will be brought to enforce rules to regulate dance bars in the state, a day after the Supreme Court paved the way for their reopening by relaxing stringent conditions imposed by the government on their licensing and functioning.
“After analysis of the Supreme Court order and discussions on it with the law and justice departments, if needed, we will issue an ordinance to stop dance bars in Mumbai,” news agency ANI quoted state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar as saying.
The Supreme Court’s order on Thursday brought reprieve to dance bar owners and employees by striking down rules that virtually prohibited their running. The court ruled that there could be ‘regulations’ but not ‘total prohibition’.
A bench of justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan struck down certain provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurant and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016, and rewrote rules framed under it, in a bid to maintain a balance between public interest and the constitutional right to earn a livelihood.
The court noted that the conditions were hardly in the nature of regulations as the real effect was prohibition of dance bars. It brought on record that the state had granted no licences since 2005 despite a top court verdict that declared two provisions of the Bombay Police Act barring dance bars as unconstitutional.
The verdict came on a petition filed by restaurant owners’ association and a bar girls’ union challenging the 2016 Act that set conditions for operation of dance bars. The petition contended that by bringing the law, the Maharashtra government had tried to circumvent a previous top court order allowing re-opening of dance bars. This was after Maharashtra had first banned dance bars in August 2005 .