NATIONAL

Ban on Mumbai dance bars quashed



Staff Reporter

Time to re-issue cancelled licences

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside the Maharashtra law banning dance bars in Mumbai. It has also given the State Government time to appeal against the order if it wants to.

The ban left 75,000 bar girls and an equal number of people working in the industry jobless.

The legal distinction between "prohibited establishments" and "exempted establishments" drew criticism from a Bench consisting of Justices F. I. Rebello and R. S. Dalvi. It was hearing petitions filed by the Association of Hotels and Restaurants, the Bhartiya Bar Girls Union and non-governmental organisations such as the Forum Against Oppression of Women and Majlis.

According to the August 15, 2005 Act, the Government prohibited performance of any kind in an "eating house, permit room or beer bar." However, provisions were made to exempt performances in "theatres, registered sports clubs, three-star hotels and above" or any other establishment which the State Government deemed significant for tourism promotion.

The Bench noted: "... Considering that the object of the legislation is to prevent dances that are obscene, vulgar or immoral,and hence derogatory to women's dignity, and to prevent exploitation of women, we find there is no nexus between the classification and the object of the Act... If women, other than as dancers, can work in prohibited establishments and that does not amount to exploitation, we do not see how it becomes exploitation when women dance to earn their livelihood."

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