Mumbai Local

State cuts entertainment red tape

The move has come as a relief for filmmakers, organisers of gay pride parades, orchestra groups and hotel owners who face harassment and discrimination at the hands of law enforcement agencies— Photo: Shantanu Das  

The city’s entertainment red tape just got shorter with the Maharashtra government deciding to cut down on the Mumbai Police’s role in regulating the entertainment industry on the grounds of decency and morality.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday approved amendments to the Bombay Police Act, 1959, removing regulatory restrictions imposed by the police on public performances such as film shoots, musicals, dance, mimes, theatrical or other amusement events, including melas and tamashas .

The clauses that control licensing and renewal of hotels and restaurants have also been done away with. A single licence from the municipal corporation will now suffice for operating or starting an eatery. “With this, we expect not only the revenue from film shoots and other ancillary activities to go up significantly, but also reduction in red tape in the entertainment and hospitality industry,” an official said.

The removal of these clauses from Section 33 of the Bombay Police Act is likely to come as a relief for filmmakers, organisers of gay pride parades, orchestra groups and hotel owners who face harassment and discrimination at the hands of law enforcement agencies while seeking and renewing licences for establishments or permission for public performances.

Mumbai’s nightlife is a hotly debated topic. In this city, considered cosmopolitan and liberal, pubs and bars shut shop early. Police routinely impose archaic laws on the grounds of decency and morality.

“This is a welcome move as a large part of our pride activities revolve around obtaining permission from the authorities,” said Pallav Patankar, programme director, Humsafar Trust. “At Carter Road Boulevard, the event needs permission from port authorities as well. While we welcome presence of police protection during pride events, there certainly is a need for cutting down the red tape.”

The notification for the changes to Section 33 of the Act will be issued early next week declaring removal of three licences: Police Registration Licence under clause 33(X), which makes registration and renewal of eating houses mandatory with the police; the Place of Public Entertainment Licence (PPEL) under clause 33 (w) (i) (ii) and (iii), imposed to maintain separate permit rooms in bars; and the Performance Licence (Phonographic), clause 33 (wa), controlling public performance on the grounds of public order, decency and morality, regulating employment of artistes, conduct of artistes and audience, and prior scrutiny of scripts in respect of these performances.

Instead of the police machinery, the State will set up a high-level committee, which will look into applications for permissions seeking performances at designated spots. With the new change, hotel and restaurant owners will no longer need to take operating licences from the police.

The Hindu on November 29 reported the Chief Minister’s in-principle approval to a report by consultancy firm Accenture, recommending abolition of permit rooms, permits for drinking, joint grant of operational and construction permits in a single stroke, cutting down permissions from 142 to just 20, among other proposals.

Restaurant and hotel owners said they faced a huge challenge. On the one hand, eating out as a regular form of entertainment is a growing trend, on the other, stringent norms prevented restaurants from catering to this growing clientele.

Of the 71 permissions required at the operational level, many have been identified as insignificant and will be deleted, according to Accenture’s report, which was commissioned by the Maharashtra government.

The report recommends that of the total 142 licences, 29 should be merged. The remaining 113 should be brought down to 20.

The Accenture plan predicts that tourist expenditure in Mumbai will double, so will the average length of stay in Mumbai, currently two days for domestic tourists and four for foreign.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 6:28:08 AM |

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