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Published On: Thu, Jan 17th, 2019

Top Court allows dance bars to continue in Maharashtra

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dance-barNEW DELHI : The fate of thousands of entertainers in Maharashtra was decided by the apex court on Thursday. The Supreme Court passed its verdict in the validity of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016 on Thursday.
The Supreme Court on Thursday modified some provisions of the 2016 Maharashtra law imposing restrictions on licensing and functioning of dance bars in the state. The court set aside the condition to mandatorily install CCTVs in Maharashtra dance bars, saying it violated privacy. It also allowed payment of tips to performers but said currency notes should not be showered on them.Performers at dance bars can be paid tips but cannot be showered with cash, the top court said. The rule of a partition between bar rooms and dance floor was also cancelled by the court.
The top court quashed the provisions mandating that the bars should be 1km away from religious places and educational institutions and there must be a partition between bar rooms and dance floor. It upheld the condition fixing timing of dance bars in Maharashtra from 6pm to 11.30pm.

“There cannot be a total prohibition on dance bars. No licence has been granted by Maharashtra since 2005. There may be regulations but that should not amount to a total prohibition,” SC said in its verdict.   The apex court relaxed stringent conditions set by Maharashtra government for getting licences for running dance bars and upheld the time of five and half hours for dance performances.

The apex court heard the pleas of hotel and restaurant owners and an association of women dancers, waitresses, singers and other performers who challenged the Act. Earlier, a bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan reserved the argument in August 2018 after hearing the pleas of interested parties. The bench said there is ‘total moral policing’ in the state which hasn’t allowed dance bars to function despite repeated orders by the Supreme Court.
Dance bar owners had objected to the restriction of maintaining a 1-km distance from any religious or educational structure claiming it was not possible in big cities. The Dance Bar Regulation Bill, that was unanimously passed by the state assembly in 2016, among other things, prohibits serving liquor in performance areas and mandates that the premises must shut by 11:30 pm. It also imposes heavy penalties on dance bar owners and customers for not following these rules.
Maharashtra government’s diktat of putting CCTV cameras in Mumbai dance bars and for licenses to be given only to the people of good character was dubbed ‘vague’ and done away by SC. The time of five and a half hours for dance performances was upheld.(With Agencies Inputs ).




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