Maharashtra government may not issue fresh ordinance to amend dance bars law
The Supreme Court (SC) had last month paved the way for reopening of dance bars, relaxing certain stringent conditions imposed by the Maharashtra government on their licencing and functioning.mumbai Updated: Feb 07, 2019 16:01 IST
The Maharashtra government may not issue a fresh ordinance to amend the law that regulates dance bars in the state.
The home department has, instead, begun the process of tweaking certain rules, as that will not require an amendment in the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016, said a senior government official, who did not wish to be named.
The Supreme Court (SC) had last month paved the way for reopening of dance bars, relaxing certain stringent conditions imposed by the government on their licencing and functioning. Offering relief to dance bar owners and employees, the Apex Court had ruled that there could be “regulations”, but not “total prohibition”.
The state, which is not in favour of dance bars, was mulling issuing a fresh ordinance to ensure they remain shut. The state had asked its home and law and judiciary departments to study the court judgment and recommend necessary steps. Both the departments, in a meeting last week, reached a conclusion that there was no need for an amendment as the entire Act had not been struck down by the court. “Of the total 39 rules, only a few have been entirely or partially struck down. The Act has been upheld entirely, except the provision of separation of bar room from the dance floor, holding it as violation of the fundamental rights,” said an official from the home department, on condition of anonymity. “This means the amendment in the Act is not necessary as it would be against the spirit of the judgment. To ensure that dance bars do not reopen, change in the rules is sufficient.”
One of the rules the SC had overturned was of installing CCTVs inside bars. The state is now likely to make CCTVs compulsory at the entrance of the bars. The court had also struck down the rules of ‘looking at the character of person seeking the licence’, terming it “vague”. The senior official said the state plans to “better define” this rule.
The government, the official said, is likely to also bring down the distance between a dance bar and educational and medical institutions from 1km to 400-500 metres. The Apex Court had asked the state to fix a “reasonable distance”.
An official from the law and judiciary department said the fine of Rs 25 lakh and imprisonment up to 3 years for violation of rules, and restriction to operate the bars between 6pm and 11.30pm was as it is sufficient to compel owners to keep bars shut. The SC had upheld the restriction on timings.
The home department, however, has sought legal opinion from Shekhar Naphade, its counsel representing the case in SC, before they tweak the rules.
In the past three weeks since the SC order, the state has so far not received any applications seeking permission to operate dance bars.
First Published: Feb 07, 2019 16:00 IST