State nod to three dance bars, but with conditions
Govt sets 60-day deadline to meet norms; bar owners unhappy, to move SC
MUMBAI: Pushed repeatedly by the Supreme Court, the Maharashtra government on Thursday gave a conditional nod to three dance bars in the city to reopen, a day ahead of the Friday deadline set by the top court. However, these bars may not open anytime soon as miffed owners are all set to approach the SC again against the stringent conditions the government has imposed.
The government’s nod comes with a rider that the bars have to comply with all the rules under the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act, 2016, drafted by the government to regulate dance bars. Owners have called these conditions unrealistic.
The government has set a deadline of 60 days for the dance bar owners to comply with all the condition, failing which their licenses will be cancelled. Further, it increased the licence fee from Rs1.84 lakh to Rs2 lakh.
By evening the Mumbai Police issued licences to Indiana Bar at Tardeo and Aero Punjab and Sai Prasad at Andheri, the three that paid the licence fee. “We have issued the licenses to the three bars after they paid the requisite licence fees. The licences were issued to those who completed the procedure,” said Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police (law and order).
The Apex Court had ordered issue of licences by Friday to eight bars that had petitioned it. On Thursday, six of them approached the police for licences, but only three could submit demand drafts for the hiked fee in time. The applications of the other three are to be processed on Friday.
The rules the bar owners are against include those prohibiting liquor and smoking in the performance area. There must be a partition, if they want to serve liquor to customers.
Splurging of money will not be allowed, nor will any kind of obscenity. Touching any dancer will land a customer in jail for three months or a penalty of Rs25,000 or both. There must be a fence-like partition dividing the dancing area and the seating area. Live orchestras cannot be part of dance bars any more, confirmed Vijay Satbir Singh, principal secretary, home.
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