Nightlife plan still not as clear as dayUpdated: Jan 21, 2020 00:17 IST
Which department gets to decide if Mumbai can stay open 24x7 – labour, home or excise? The confusion over the jurisdiction, even after tourism minister said Mumbai’s nightlife proposal can be implemented from January 26, may act as a hurdle in its implementation.
The situation is similar to two years ago. While the state amended the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act in September 2017 to allow shops and establishments to operate around-the-clock, there was no clarity over the existing rules and restrictions of the home department. Following the Model Shops and Establishments Act 2016 passed by the Centre, the law only barred liquor-serving outlets from operating beyond 1.30am. However, the police did not allow various establishments to operate at night, forcing them to approach the state. The police department, meanwhile, cited circulars issued by the home department under various other laws, which restricted the operation timings to maintain law and order.
During last week’s review meeting held by environment and tourism minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, the labour department stated that as the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act has allowed all establishments to operate around-the-clock, it would supersede all other laws and orders.
Rajesh Kumar, principal secretary, labour department, said, “Barring the restrictions on liquor-serving establishments, there is no time limit for any other entity governed under the Act,” he said.
However, all officials don’t agree. The home department stated the police have every right to impose restrictions under the Maharashtra Police Act (MPA) and Indian Penal Code. “Although the MPA does not specify any time frame for shops, circulars are issued from time to time to restrict the timings. The law passed in 2017 is limited to labour-related issues only,” said a home department official, on condition of anonymity. “The excise department allowed bars and permit rooms to stay open till 5am on New Year’s Eve. Unless the home department agrees to let them to stay open till late, the excise department’s circular has no meaning. We had raised strict objections to the exemptions given by the excise department.”
The home department had recently turned down an application of an international food chain for 24x7 operations. Another retail apparel chain had approached the labour department for clarity on policy. The department pointed at the lack of clarity between the departments.
Meanwhile, home minister Anil Deshmukh said his department was positive towards implementation of the proposal. “Implementation of the proposal at a few places such as malls and gated communities like mill compounds would not burden the police force and can be considered. The final decision will be taken in the cabinet on Wednesday,” he said.