Process licences for dance bars: SC tells Maharashtra

Dance BarNew Delhi:(IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to consider and decide, in two weeks, applications for licence by hoteliers for dance performances in beer bars and restaurants.

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant gave two weeks’ time as the court was told that the Maharashtra government has not carried out its October 15 order both in letter as well as spirit.

The court said steps would be taken to ensure that there was no obscenity during dance performances.

By its October 15 order, the apex court had stayed the operation of provision of the Maharashtra Police Act that prohibited dance performances at eating places, beer bars and restaurants, noting the provision was brought back in the Maharashtra Police Act in 2014 after being held ultra vires in 2013 by the top court.

The Bombay Police Act, 1951 sections 33A and 33B prohibiting dance performances in eating houses, permit rooms or beer bars, which came into force August 14, 2005, was struck down as unconstitutional by the Bombay High Court by its verdict on April 12, 2006.

The high court verdict was upheld by the apex court subsequently as it rejected the Maharashtra government’s appeal against it.

However, these provisions were restored in the Bombay Police Act by an amendment by state assembly on June 25, 2014.

Noting that the same provisions with enhanced sentence were brought back, the apex court by its October 15 order had stayed their operation.

“As we are staying the provision, if the members of the petitioner (organisation – Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association) apply for licence, the same shall be considered in accordance with law without taking note of the restriction as section 33A has been stayed by us,” the court had then said.

However, the court had said, “we add a rider that no performance of dance shall remotely be expressive of any kind of obscenity in any manner” as sufficient power is vested with the licensing authority to safeguard any violation of the dignity of women through obscene dances.


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