NATIONAL

Maharashtra passes Bill banning dance bars

Bar girls shouting slogans in protest against the Maharashtra Government decision to close down dance bars across the State.—File Photo: Vivek Bendre

Bar girls shouting slogans in protest against the Maharashtra Government decision to close down dance bars across the State.—File Photo: Vivek Bendre  

The Maharashtra Legislature on Friday passed a Bill banning dance bars. The ban will be extended from beer bars to three and five star hotels, which were spared earlier.

The Bill proposes a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh and imprisonment of up to 3 years on violators. The licence of such establishments will be cancelled.

This comes almost a year after the Supreme Court 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 government planned to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, but finally tabled it in the 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 agreed to support it.

The Maharashtra government had banned dance bars 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 said they will approach the court against the Bill, saying it discriminates against the rights of dancers to earn a living in the entertainment industry.

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