Today the Supreme Court delivered a crucial verdict on Maharashtra Dance Bars. The top court relaxed the conditions set by the state government for issuing licenses to dance bars and upheld the performance timing cap of five and a half hours for the dance performances.
The court also quashed the rule that segregated dancing stage from the bar area where drinks are served.
In its observation, the Court said that there cannot be “total prohibition on dance bars.” No license has been granted by Maharashtra government for a dance bar in Mumbai since 2005. “There may be regulations but that should not amount to total prohibition”, pressed the Supreme Court.
Highlights of today’s Judgement on Dance Bars:
1. CCTV cameras inside dance bars quashed. Supreme Court calls it “violation of privacy”
2. License condition that allowed only persons with good character quashed. Top Court said that “good character” too vague a term to define.
3. Supreme Court has upheld a rule of Maharashtra government by which working women should have a contract so they can’t be exploited, however, quashed a rule of monthly salary for bar dancers.
4. The Court has also struck down a condition by which dance bars should be 1 km away from educational and religious places.
The Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dances in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act, 2016 is arbitrary and denies right to earn a livelihood, said the petitioners in their appeal. The top court in August last year had questioned Maharashtra government’s “presumption” that all performances by dance bar girls are obscene. Citing the example of Bollywood, a bench of Justice A K Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan, said that the definition, perception, and understanding of obscenity also changes with time.