Call it good, bad or worse but the olden glory of dance bars is all set to hit the cities in Maharashtra again. The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the state government’s order banning the dance bars in the state. While upholding a Bombay High Court decision the apex court has paved way for all the bar owners desperately waiting to add the glitz of dance to their servings. A bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar also vacated its stay order on implementation of the high court judgement.
So now when the larger section of civil society might be raising hackles over the decision, the tipplers were reportedly relieved at the decision. This would not only end seven years of their long wait to have a toast with the ‘visual delight’ but also keep them away from the prying eyes of ‘men in khaki’.
Nagpur Commissioner of Police KK Pathak told Nagpur Today, “We have to go through the judgement and whatever it is we will implement it.” When asked about the implication of the decision on Nagpur, Pathak said, “Our duty is to implement the judgement. This way or that way, we will have to implement it.” He refused to comment further since the matter is still in the pipeline. “It remains to be seen whether the state government will go in for fresh appeal or not”, he added.
In Nagpur, many high society people who are regular to these dance bars rejoiced and celebrated the much awaited decision which will enable them to move freely into such bars without worrying about the police raids.
Even the young party goers too are relaxed as more recently they were bothered too often with frequent raids into their party den.
However police sources in Nagpur believe that this would only increase the crime rate in the city already reeling under worse crime situation. “In the past the late night dance bars would often lead to drunken brawl and even the bouncers could not help. Now with the dance bars opening again it will add to more such tensions keeping the cops on their toes. The time to open dance bars at least in Nagpur is not right at all,” a senior policeman said on condition of anonymity.
The Maharashtra government had in 2005 brought in an amendment in the Bombay Police Act, which was challenged in the High Court by an association representing restaurants and bars.
The High Court in 2006 had quashed the government’s decision. The state government had moved the apex court against the High Court’s order that same year.
The Supreme Court while admitting the government’s plea had stayed the High Court’s verdict.
In its plea, the state government had contended that prostitution rackets were being run under the garb of beer bars and indecent and vulgar performances, “derogatory to the society” were taking place.
The government had also contended that while there were only 345 licensed dance bars, about 2,500 unlicensed bars were doing business in the state.
On the other hand, various organizations representing dance bars, restaurants and bar girls had argued that the preamble of the Bombay Police (Amendment) Act, 2005, which had been struck down by the high court as unconstitutional, holds that dance performances for public amusement were permissible.
These organizations had also submitted that there were over 70,000 women engaged in dance bars and several of them had already committed suicide due to unemployment and financial crunch.
They had said that with as many as 72% of the bar girls being married and 68% being sole bread earners of their family, the state government’s order has rendered them jobless and had been rightly struck down as arbitrary and unconstitutional by the high court.