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SC lifts Maharashtra dance bar ban,says it is unconstitutional

The final verdict also ended the interim order of staying the Bombay High Court judgment.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
July 16, 2013 10:18:54 pm

Upholding the right of women who dance at bars to pursue their profession,the Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed the Maharashtra government’s appeal to forbid dancing in bars and said the prohibition violated the right to carry on one’s profession in a non-discriminatory manner.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar refused to accept the government’s justification for banning such performances and found favour with the Bombay High Court’s verdict on quashing the controversial ban,which was implemented by the state government on August 15,2005.

The bench concurred with the views of the high court that the ban was constitutionally impermissible,for prohibiting dances in certain establishments while permitting them in some others infringed on the Right to Equality under Article 14 of the constitution.

The apex court also accepted the rationale of the high court verdict that the government’s move failed to qualify as a “reasonable restriction” under Article 19 (6) of the constitution and that it was in fact unreasonable.

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The final verdict also ended the interim order of staying the Bombay High Court judgment. The state government will now have to examine afresh all requests for licences to run dance bars in Maharashtra.

In April 2006,the high court had struck down the law and slammed the state government for its double standards in allowing bar girls to dance in high-end establishments and at independent performances,while banning it elsewhere.

The government had challenged this order in May 2006 and obtained a stay. It said such bars fuelled trafficking,prostitution and exploitation of women. It had also said bar dancing was vulgar and it depraved morals.

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