Maharashtra govt. defends in SC new law on dance bars

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has justified the restrictions imposed by the state government on dance bars saying “there’s no art in their dance”. During a hearing in the Supreme Court in the Mumbai dance bar case on January 11, the government counsel said: “There’s no art in their dance, they aren’t trained artistes and hence their dance may become obscene.”

The state government further submitted that the bars must have CCTVs inside the premises since “they are visited by criminal elements”.

On September 21, the apex court had ruled in favor of three bar owners who had challenged the “stringent” norms imposed by the state government to ensure “safety of women”. A division bench of the top court, headed by Justice Dipak Misra and Justice C Nagappan, had then allowed the three bars with proper CCTVs to function.

Batting for age restrictions, the government counsel also said those under 21 years of age should not be allowed to go to dance bars as they could be “spoiled”. “Those below 21 can’t be allowed as they can get spoiled by the kind of amusement bars provide. They must be kept away from such atmosphere,” the counsel said.

On August 30, the top court had issued a notice to the Maharashtra Government over the new law for dance bar licences asking it to reply within six months. The Dance Bar Regulation Bill, which was unanimously passed by the Maharashtra Assembly on April 13, also prohibits serving liquor in performance areas. It also imposes heavy penalties on dance bar owners and customers for not following these rules.

The dance bar owners objected to the restrictions imposed by the state government. Rules like maintaining a mandatory distance of one kilometer from any religious or educational structure, closing the dance bars before 11.30 pm and others have hit the dance bar business, claim the bar owners.

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