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SC stands up to Maha 'mindset' over dance bars: Pushing dance bar workers underground would be worse

'It is better to dance, than going to streets to beg': SC on Maharashtra dance bar bans
'It is better to dance, than going to streets to beg': SC on Maharashtra dance bar bans

Taking a dig at Maharashtra government over its persistence to curb dance bars, the Supreme Court on Monday said that it was better to dance then go to streets for begging or going to “places which are not acceptable” to earn a livelihood.

“It is better to dance, than going to streets to beg or earn livelihood by going to unacceptable places,” said a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh pointing out that while it was incumbent upon the state to curb obscenity, it could not target a profession of dance while doing so.

Taking exception to the “mindset and attitude” of trying to curb the dance bar by way of regulation which can’t other be done through laws, the bench said: “As a state, you have to protect the dignity of the woman. You can’t say that if a woman goes to a workplace and there is obscenity, then the workplace should go.”

“Dignity of the woman has to be maintained. There can’t be any obscene or offensive act. You can regulator, you can’t say ban the dance bar,” it said.

Stressing that there should be a balance between permitting the dance bars and curbing obscenity, the bench said that regulation regulating the dance bars can’t be in the realm of prohibition, pointing out that the entire “mindset is prohibiting”.

“What (apex) court says can’t be done (banning dance bars), they (Maharashtra government) have put it back in the regulation,” the bench said, adding that “you are permitting the dance bar and imposing the prohibition in the regulations”.

The court’s observation came in the course of the hearing of a plea by the Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (IHRA) questioning the regulation that made the operation of dance bars nearly impossible such as one saying that there could not be a dance bar within one km radius of a place of religion.

Senior counsel Jayant Bhushan, who appeared for IHRA, said that it was unthinkable to have a dance bar in Mumbai which is not within one km radius of a religious place.

While noting that the state government has complied with its earlier order for granting dance bar licences, the court said that the home department of the Maharashtra government would with “promptitude” complete the verification of the people working in the dance bars as per its orders.

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