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SC rules that Mumbai bar dancers have right to livelihood

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the Bombay high court’s decision to strike down the ban on dance bars in Maharashtra, holding that “the cure is worse than the disease” and that safety measures and improvement in working conditions of the dancers was the solution, reported the Hindustan Times.

Now bars, restaurants, and hotels can obtain police licenses to hold dance performances on their premises. The Maharashtra police had expressed fears of increase in crime rate in letting the bars stay open, as they were “dens of anti-social elements”.

Writing a separate concurring opinion, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir observed:

“The right to practise a trade or profession and the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 (of Constitution) are, by their very nature, intermingled with each other, but in a situation like the present one, such right cannot be equated with unrestricted freedom like a run-away horse... it would be better to treat the cause than to blame the effect and to completely discontinue the livelihood of a large section of women, eking out an existence by dancing in bars, who will be left to the mercy of other forms of exploitation.”

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