The Karnataka High Court on Thursday stayed a state government order prescribing guidelines for employing women at bars and discotheques terming it ‘gender discriminatory’. The court has observed that bar and discotheque owners need not seek police permission to employee women at their premises.
The interim order was passed by Justice Anand Byrareddy in a plea filed by owners of 23 bar and discotheque owners in Bangalore against police guidelines issued in 2013 prescribing dress codes, employment terms for women employed at bars and discos. The high court while allowing an interim application by the bar owners on Thursday said that the police can intervene with the functioning of these establishments only if there is a law and order situation.
The court stated that bars and related establishments do not come under the purview of the Karnataka Police Act to allow the police to issue guidelines to them. “The court observed that any conditions imposed on hiring women employees would be gender discrimination and against fundamental rights,” an advocate for the bar owners Hemanth Raj said.
In the guidelines issued in 2013, the Karnataka home department had imposed licensing conditions on bar owners and disco operators employing women including uniforms comprising of trousers, shirt/T-shirt, with or without a blazer or a salwar kameez with veil without any ‘vulgar display of body’.
It also required establishments to submit designs of uniforms prescribed for female employees to be approved by the authorities. The guideline also barred establishments from hiring women, men, transgenders for dancing or any other form of exhibition to entertain customers.
“It is not up to the police department to decide on matters such as salary, provident fund, employee screening, transport, customer to employee ratio – as there are tremendous costs involved and there are separate mechanisms to address the same through the labour department. These conditions penalised and victimized establishments leading to discrimination against employing women because it increased operating costs and restricted the ease of doing business,” the advocate for the bar owners said.