Mumbai, 21 September: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed three dance bars to operate under the old rules and conditions that permitted serving of liquor with CCTV cameras at the entrance.
The court ordered while hearing the Mumbai dance bars case, where the bar owners have challenged the stringent laws regulating bars, while the Maharashtra government is justifying the requirement for these restrictions to ensure the safety and dignity of women working in these establishments.
The Court noticed that prohibition of liquor in dance bars is absurd. “Why don’t you ban the liquour consumption in the state as a whole. You can put other conditions, but you cannot say that liquor can’t be served,” said the court.
The next date of the hearing is slated to be on November 24.
The Top court had on August 30 sent a notice to the Maharashtra Government over a new law for dance bar licences, to file the response within six months.
Dance bar owners have opposed the restriction of maintaining a 1-km distance from any religious or educational structure claiming it was not possible in big cities. They asserted that another curb of shutting down the bars before 11.30 p m is discriminatory in the time when the central government was promoting round-the-clock business by commercial establishments.
The Top court had in May directed the Maharashtra Government to grant licenses to eight dance bars within two days and asked them to give an undertaking that they would not engage employees with criminal antecedents near the dance area.
The Dance Bar Regulation Bill, that was unanimously passed by the Assembly on April 13, among other things, prohibits serving liquor in performance areas and mandates that the premises must shut by 11:30 pm. It also imposes heavy fine on dance bar owners and customers for not adhering these rules.
The apex court had on 2 March rejected certain suggestions like providing live CCTV footage to police of performances in the dance bars and asked the state government to grant licences to owners within 10 days after they comply with the modified guidelines.