In a major reprieve for dance bars in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court Monday relaxed the conditions set by the Devendra Fadnavis government for obtaining licenses for operations, saying, “There may be regulations but that should not amount to total prohibition.”
Modifying some of the provisions of the state law – the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016 – a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri permitted the bars to function from 6 pm to 11:30 pm and also allowed sale of liquor in the premises.
While the court set aside the condition to install CCTV cameras in the bars on grounds of privacy, it prohibited showering of currency notes on the dancers. Payment of tips to the performers is allowed, the court said.
The bench also quashed the provision mandating that dance bars in the state should be located at least one km away from religious places and educational institutes.
Last year, the apex court had questioned the state government over denial of licences to dance bars and wondered if the state had resorted to moral policing. It observed that with the changing times, the definition of obscenity has also changed.
In its response to the court, the state government said that dance bars are “against the culture of Maharashtra” and that “social stigma” has a “negative impact on youngsters”.