The state government was planning to convene a special session to reinforce all political parties’ decision to strictly enforce the ban on dance bars in Maharashtra, it is learnt. However, sources said, it was felt later that the government should exercise its own laws to crack down on dance bars, and not take the judiciary head on.
The Supreme Court’s directives to the state government to issue licences to the dance bars had upset elected members across the party lines. According to highly placed sources in the government, there was pressure on the government “not to allow the judiciary to encroach upon the executive and legislative rights of the elected members in state assembly and council”.
The leaders of all political parties were in favour of voicing their protest on the floor of the assembly and council.
The leaders believed they should make a strong point that the dance bar Act was an outcome of the legislative rights and came through democratic process.
However, after adequate consultations, it was felt that the government should exercise its own laws to crack down on dance bars, said the sources. As a result, the simmering discontent in political parties against the court order, which would have ventilated on the floor of the assembly and council, has been averted.
Following the court orders, the state government has already issued licences to four dance bars.
But it has also made it clear that they have been given two months’ time to conform to all the guidelines in letter and spirit before starting the operations.
The chief minister who also holds the home portfolio, has indicated that there would be no compromise on guidelines of the state Act.
The list of dos and don’ts include safeguarding the safety of the women dancers through a separate enclosure which would be away from the arena where liquor is served.
The act of throwing money or physically touching the dance girls has been strictly banned. The enforcement of CCTV cameras in the vicinity and its monitoring has been made mandatory.
Apart from increasing the licence fees from Rs 20,000 to Rs 5 lakh, the punishment for violation of the guidelines includes imprisonment up to five years and penalty of Rs 25,000.
The dance bar Act was first enacted in 2005-06. However, successive governments have faced the challenge from the court. At least three times in the past, the state legislative assembly and council gave their consent to the dance bar ban Act.
In budget session 2016-17, the chief minister brought a new legislature imposing stricter guidelines in the Act.