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Dance bars can re-open in Mumbai, rules SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Bombay high court verdict which had struck down police orders banning dance bars. The decision could lead to opening of the closed dance bars in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. The bars were shut down in 2005. The court also vacated its stay order on implementation of the high court judgement.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar rejected the appeal of the Maharashtra government challenging the high court verdict. The apex court bench upheld the right of bar dancers to pursue their profession subject to the dancing bars taking license from the state authorities. The state government contended that the bars left these women vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. It also said that these bars had become a meeting place for criminals. It had contended that bar dancing is obscene and vulgar.

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 had held that the Act prohibiting dancing violated the right to carry on one’s profession under Article 19 of the Constitution. It had said that banning dances in some places while allowing them in others was contrary to the rule of equality. The apex court had stayed the order of the high court while admitting the state government plea.

The bar dancers and owners association had contended that the ban on bar dances in some establishments while allowing in others was contrary to the rule of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. As per the said Act, any type of dancing is prohibited in an eating house, permit room or beer bar while permissible in three star and above hotels and other elite establishments.
Bar-owners expressed their happiness over the decision of the court. Varsha Kale of the Bar Dancers Association said, ‘We are very happy with the decision of the court but our fight has still not ended.’
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