Dance Bar culture is social problem: Maharashtra to Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Justifying ban on dance performances at beer bars, hotels and restaurants in Maharashtra, the state government has told the Supreme Court that performers indulged in obscene and vulgar behavior having negative impact on youngsters.

In an interim order, the Supreme Court had on October 15 lifted the ban imposed by the state government on the ground that the court had earlier quashed a similar law in 2013 and raised question that new law was brought just to circumvent its earlier order. It allowed dance bars with a rider that no performance shall remotely be expressive of any kind of obscenity.

Toeing the line of earlier Congress government which had brought the law in 2014, Devendra Fadnavis government also supported banning dance bars. In an affidavit filed in SC, the state government said that investigation conducted by it showed that dance performances lead to “violation of dignity of women, deprivation, corruption and injury of public morals”.

“Rules have been framed in the interest of public safety and social welfare. It is not correct to say that there is no social problem in such as indecent, obscene or vulgar behaviour or exploitation of women. As the existing rules are not sufficient to achieve the public interest, safety and social welfare it is felt necessary to enact the present law,” the affidavit said.

It said law was enacted after the government received numerous complaints from public on the nature of dance performances in bars which was alleged to be in violation of morality.

“It is submitted that the government was contemplating to ban dance bars after noting the negative impact on the youngsters who indulged in selling their ancestral property getting astounding prices and showering money in dance bars,” it said.

The government said that the law was not brought to circumvent the apex court judgement delivered in 2013 verdict. It said that law was enacted after following due procedure and pleaded the court not to strike it down.

In 2013, the top court had declare banning dance bars unconstitutional but a year after the state government brought another law Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Act. While staying the new law, the court directed the state to take steps to protect the dignity of woman artists performing in bars, hotels and restaurants.

Dance bars had always been a part of vibrant night life of Mumbai but the previous Congress government banned it in 2005 by amending Maharashtra Police Act. Aggrieved by government’s decision various bar owners including Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association moved Bombay HC which set aside the law in 2006. The order of HC was upheld by SC in 2013.

The government, however, made a fresh attempt for banning dance performance and brought a new amendment in 2014 in the Act in order to nullify SC verdict.