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SC raps Maharashtra for not granting licenses to dance bars

Dance bar

New Delhi : The Supreme Court today rapped the Maharashtra government for not granting licenses to dance bars on account of non-compliance of some conditions and said it is better for women to perform then begging on streets or doing something “unacceptable” for earning livelihood.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh dealt with certain pre-conditions for grant of licenses to dance bars and said, “conditions subsequent cannot be equated with condition precedents”.

“It is better to perform in the dance bars then begging in the street or doing some unacceptable things for livelihood,” it said, adding that the state has to protect the women’s dignity at the work place.

“What is this? Why have you not complied with our order. What certificates you (Maharashtra) want? I had told you last time that you must maintain constitutional norms,” it said.

The bench, however, acknowledged the plea of Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Maharashtra, that state has to ensure that there is no “obscenity” in dance bars and the dignity of women is protected there.

Dealing with contentious conditions, it asked both dance bar owners and the police to comply with mutually-agreed terms which were part of earlier court orders.

It asked all dance bars to get criminal antecedents of their employees checked by local police, besides installing CCTV cameras at all entry points of dance bars.

The court also asked dance bars to adhere to conditions like there should be railings to demarcate performance area with the place where audience will sit and watch.

Simultaneously, it ordered police not to ask the dance bar applicants to furnish NoCs from municipal bodies, health and fire departments on the grounds that these documents must have been sought when the hotel or restaurants had come into being.

At the out set, the ASG said that over 150 applications for grant of licenses have been received and only 39 offered themselves for inspection.

She also said that some of the dance bars have partly complied with the conditions, leading the court to ask about the specific terms.

The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on May 10.

During the hearing, the bench did not agree to certain terms including the one which said that the dance bars will not be serving liquor and they should not be in close vicinity of schools or religious places.

“How can it be? Have you banned liquor?,” the bench asked. Earlier also, the court had taken strong note of non-compliance of orders asking Mumbai Police to grant licenses to dance bars in ten days.

Today, Deputy Commissioner of Police Pradeep Sawant appeared in pursuance of the order and apprised the court about the licensing process.

Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, had alleged that Maharashtra has not complied with the direction to grant licenses to the dance bar owners within ten days after they complied with the modified pre-conditions and had urged the court to summon a responsible officer to the court.

Prior to this, the court had rejected certain conditions like providing live CCTV footage to police on the performances in the dance bars and asked Maharashtra government to grant licenses to owners within 10 days after they complied with modified guidelines.

The bench had granted three days to dance bar owners to comply with the modified conditions.

The court had modified conditions of separating the stage and audience areas by a railing and said a three- feet high railing will be put up in the front. The bench had also allowed verification of criminal antecedents of dance performers and setting up of greenrooms for them.

Among other conditions which the court allowed was putting up of non-transparent partition between restaurant and permit room area and the petitioner Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association agreed to it.

The bench also said that permit area or the stage cannot be altered without the prior permission of competent statutory authority.

The association had objected to the condition that makes it compulsory for dance bar owners to “ensure that adequate number of CCTV cameras which will live feed continuously to police control room be installed to cover the entire premises.”

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