Dance bars are set to be banned once in Maharashtra, with both houses of the state legislature passing a bill to this effect on Friday night. The ban will be extended from beer bars to three and five star hotels, which were spared earlier.
The bill proposes a fine of upto Rs 5 lakhs and imprisonment of upto 3 years against those who violate the ban. The license such establishments will also be cancelled.
This comes almost a year after the Supreme Court had lifted the ban on the state’s dance bars, calling it a violation on the dancers’ fundamental right to earn a living. The apex court had also objected to luxury hotels being selectively excluded from the ban.
Initially, the Maharashtra government planned to refer the bill to a Select Committee, but finally ended up tabling it in the State Assembly, where it was passed unanimously without much debate. The State Council too passed the bill unanimously. A draft of the bill had been approved by the State Cabinet on Thursday after the opposition had agreed to support it.
The Maharashtra government had banned dance bars in the state in 2005. In 2006, the Bombay High Court struck down the ban as unconstitutional. This stand was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The new bill however, allows dancing in cultural events and festivals even if they are held in luxury hotels. Dancing in gymkhanas and theatres will also be permitted.
Meanwhile, women’s groups have already said they will approach the court against the bill, saying it discriminates against the rights of the dancers to earn a living in the entertainment industry.
Keywords: Maharashtra dance bars