SC: How can there be a liquor ban in dance bars?
AS the Supreme Court continued its hearing on the " weird and obnoxious" licence rules brought in by the Maharashtra government for the state's 800 dance bars, most of them in Mumbai, judges on Wednesday questioned how there could be a ban on serving of liquor in the performing area of a place designated as a " bar". The apex court made it clear to the state government that it just cannot single out the dance bars for a liquor ban and if it was indeed doing it on the ground of improving the law and order and better policing, then it may implement it in all hotels, restaurants besides the dance bars." What an obnoxious rule? No alcoholic beverage should be sold? It is a bar. You may take steps to ban liquor in all hotels, restaurants and dance bars across the state of Maharashtra but you cannot single out just the dance bars for a ban," a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra told lawyers representing the Maharashtra government.
The court, acting on a petition filed dance bar owners' association, said the regulation prohibiting
prohibiting liquor during performance of dance was " absurd". The remarks came as the Maharashtra government defended the new law, saying that it was part of their inherent power to police the state.
Dance bars were banned in Maharashtra in 2005 but were allowed to reopen eight years later by the Supreme Court which overruled the state government's argument that these establishments were a " bad influence on society and encourage prostitution". The owners of the bars were asked to reapply for licences. In April, the state government had passed a new law banning serving of liquor in the dance area, set a 11.30 pm deadline for dances, banned liquor in the bars and ordered CCTVs inside.
Dance bar owners are also unhappy with the new licence condition which has a vague definition for ' obscenity', which if detected will lead to cancellation of the licence of the bar.
The government had latched on to the SC order which while lifting the ban on dance bars had given them full power to crack down on ' indecent' and ' obscene' performances.
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