The Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down the Maharashtra government’s ban on dance bars has evoked sharp reaction across the political spectrum. The State government has announced the formation of a legal panel to study the ruling.

“We are yet to receive a copy of the… ruling. After doing so, a panel of lawyers, legal consultants and legislators will study [it] and submit a report to the State government,” Home Minister R.R. Patil said, speaking to journalists on the Assembly premises.

Later, in a statement made in the Legislative Council, Mr. Patil said that the panel would suggest whether to approach a full bench, file a review petition or change existing laws in the state against dance bars.

Meanwhile, political parties in Maharashtra are up in arms following the verdict, with ruling as well as opposition party legislators supporting the ban on the bars.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President Manikrao Thakre said there ought to be a strong law to ban dance bars, while Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) State President Bhaskar Jadhav was of the view that the “people of the state” supported the ban on dance bars.

The opposition parties led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena criticized the ruling government for its “levity on the dance-bar issue” that allegedly led to the Supreme Court’s decision.

BJP State President Devendra Fadnavis described the ruling as “unfortunate”, while Sena legislator Neelam Gorhe, advocating a complete clampdown on dance-bars, expressed concern on the exploitation of women in such bars.

Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi said that the Congress-NCP government had failed to do its “homework” in court which led to today’s ruling.

The ban, enforced by the Maharashtra government in August 2005, had been struck down by the Bombay High Court in 2006, following which the state government had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.