October 15, 2015 – The Supreme Court stayed the operation of Maharashtra Police Act (2014 amendment) that had banned dance bars in Maharashtra. The reopening of dance bars across the State is expected now.
However, the Apex court added a rider to its interim order and permitted the licensing authorities to control indecent dance performances at dancing bars. No obscenity will be allowed during the performance of dance, and if anything is observed objectionable, the licensing authority in the state can regulate such dance performances in order to protect the individual dignity of woman performer.
It is pertinent to mention that earlier in 2005; the Maharashtra government had brought an amendment in the Bombay Police Act, which was challenged in high court by the restaurants and bars association. The Bombay High Court had quashed the government’s decision on April 12, 2006. In the same year 2006, the Maharashtra government had filed an appeal in the SC against the high court’s order. The Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court verdict quashing the state government’s order on July 16, 2013.
In 2014, the government passed a Bill banning the running of dance bars across the state. The said Bill proposed a fine of upto Rs. 5 lakh and imprisonment of upto 3 years against those found violating the ban.
Now, the SC had lifted the ban on the State’s dance bars, calling it a violation on the woman dancers’ fundamental right to make a living.