Days after the Supreme Court suspended a legal provision banning dance performances in bars in Maharashtra and directed the state government to grant licences to bar owners, the Mumbai Police is all set to impose stringent conditions, including complete closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) coverage, for dance bars before they are granted fresh licences.
Soon after the verdict, the police had voiced an old concern — that dance bars have in the past sometimes allegedly been found to be a front for illegal activities. The plan now is to tighten the noose around the dance bars at the licencing stage itself. Sources have confirmed that the bars would be required to store the CCTV footage for at least a month.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the Mumbai Police top brass began discussions to chalk out basic rules for dance bars to keep them in check. The decision was taken to impose strict conditions while granting licences to bar owners to ensure transparency and accountability.
According to police sources, some of the conditions to be imposed before granting licences have been agreed upon, though discussions are still underway in this regard.
“We plan to make it mandatory for dance bars to have six to eight CCTV cameras on the premises, and the management will have to store the footage for at least a month before erasing it,” said a senior officer with the Mumbai police, adding, “We are also considering to get the management to place a sign at the entrance saying that the facility is under camera cover.”
Officials said these conditions would help ensure that no illegal or immoral activities were being carried out under the guise of dance bars, and also ensure that patrons stayed within their limits, as they would know they were being monitored.
“Even now, when not more than four women are allowed to only sing on the stage, the Social Service Branch sees so many cases where the girls are found to be behaving indecently with customers, and are hidden in cavities made in walls when a raid occurs. CCTV footage will help us better to bust these activities. If these cameras are found to be out of order more than once, or if the footage is not preserved for a month, we can recommend suspension or cancellation of the bar’s license,” said another officer.
“Random checks of the footage by the local police or the Crime Branch can even help to find out if any known criminal elements or history sheeters are visiting a particular bar regularly and whether they are splurging large amounts of money they can not account for, and such people can be kept under surveillance,” said a source.
When asked about the action with regard to dance bars, Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmad Javed only responded by saying that they would first go through the SC order and then take further decisions.