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Explained: Why Is There Opposition to Shops and Bars Running 24x7 in Karnataka?

A circular, issued in January 2021, said that shops and businesses can remain open round the clock on all days.

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Explainers
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Explained: Why Is There Opposition to Shops and Bars Running 24x7 in Karnataka?
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Karnataka's labour department issued a circular in January 2021, to help businesses and labourers recover from the financial distress they suffered during the COVID-19 lockdown. The circular indicated that shops and businesses in the state can remain open round the clock on all days.

The new rule, was sanctioned under the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act of 1961.

What did the circular say about shop timings and why has it met with opposition? Read on to find out.

Explained: Why Is There Opposition to Shops and Bars Running 24x7 in Karnataka?

  1. 1. What Are the New Guidelines?

    The revised rules of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act 1961 are not applicable to all shops. The rules pertain only to commercial establishments which have 10 or more employees. The new circular also stated that the directive came into effect starting 2 January 2021, and that it would be in force till 2 January 2024.

    Expand
  2. 2. What Are the Additional Rules That the Commercial Establishments Need To Follow?

    The employer should appoint additional manpower to ensure that all employees get one day holiday in a week on rotational basis.

    The employer should make sure that no employee's working time exceeds 10 hours a day, and overtime wages should be mandatorily credited to their savings accounts as per the Wages Act of 1963.

    The employees must be given basic amenities such as access to clean washrooms, restrooms, and safety lockers while they are on duty at workspaces.

    Expand
  3. 3. What About Women Workers?

    The new guidelines dictate that women workers are not allowed to work beyond 8 pm on any given day, under normal circumstances. However, the employer is permitted to employ women for late shifts (8 pm to 6 am), provided they have written consent from the women employees concerned.

    Employer must also make travel or transport arrangements for women employees who work in different shifts. This is to provide adequate protection and safety to the employees.

    Lastly, every employer employing a woman should have an internal complaints committee under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.

    Expand
  4. 4. What Are the Concerns Raised by a Residents' Association?

    The Federation of Residents' Welfare Associations in Indira Nagar, Bengaluru has opposed the new circular, citing reasons of public nuisance, lack of safety, and even pollution. A press release by iChange Indiranagar, a residents' welfare association, read, "To the best of our knowledge this (new circular) has been passed without any public consultation. Labour department under Section 12 of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act has the right to change Opening/Closing timings of the establishment and not to make a decision that has far reaching impact on this city."

    Expand
  5. 5. What Are the Objections Raised by Residents Associations?

    Apart from those in Indiranagar, other residents' welfare associations in Bengaluru too have refused to accept the opening of commercial establishing such as bars, restaurants, delivery aggregators, and supermarkets. They have, however, acknowledged the need for 24x7 medical establishments.

    Listing out their objections to the circular, Sneha Nandihal of iChange Indiranagar told The Quint, "We are opposed to not just bars and restaurants. We are against opening of any commercial establishments, except for medical and emergency related spaces late in the night."

    The Indiranagar association has highlighted that commercial establishments illegally occupy residential areas, making it difficult for residents to get these evicted. The association has also said that opening of commercial spaces will lead to noise pollution which, according to them, is an infringement of Article 21 of the constitution.

    The associations have also raised concerns regarding public safety and women's safety in particular. According to these associations, incidences of sexual assault on women are already on the rise. "Police are seriously understaffed and already unable to cope with issues arising from closure (of shops) at one in the morning. This notification will encourage undesirable elements, pimps, drug peddlers, and knife wielding robbers to be on the streets all night," a residents' welfare association member accused.

    Expand
  6. 6. Hotel Association Writes to Police Commissioner, Rebuts Residents

    Hoteliers Association of Bengaluru, meanwhile, has written the city Police Commission Kamal Pant, asking him to enforce the order. The association claimed that no association has asked for opening of bars and pubs.

    Speaking to The Quint, Veerendra Kamat, secretary of Bruhat Bengaluru Hotel Association said, "This circular is nothing but eyewash. There is no coordination between the labour department, the police, and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Each of them are passing the buck. Despite issuing the circular we have not been allowed to open our restaurants (round the clock)."

    The association also clarified that the concerns raised by residents welfare associations of Indiranagar are misplaced.

    "No organisation or association has asked for 24x7 opening of bars and pubs. The intention is to keep food accessible for all. It would help people. Also, the decision to (keep the restaurant) open is the prerogative of the individual restaurant owner," he added.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Are the New Guidelines?

The revised rules of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act 1961 are not applicable to all shops. The rules pertain only to commercial establishments which have 10 or more employees. The new circular also stated that the directive came into effect starting 2 January 2021, and that it would be in force till 2 January 2024.

ADVERTISEMENT

What Are the Additional Rules That the Commercial Establishments Need To Follow?

The employer should appoint additional manpower to ensure that all employees get one day holiday in a week on rotational basis.

The employer should make sure that no employee's working time exceeds 10 hours a day, and overtime wages should be mandatorily credited to their savings accounts as per the Wages Act of 1963.

The employees must be given basic amenities such as access to clean washrooms, restrooms, and safety lockers while they are on duty at workspaces.

ADVERTISEMENT

What About Women Workers?

The new guidelines dictate that women workers are not allowed to work beyond 8 pm on any given day, under normal circumstances. However, the employer is permitted to employ women for late shifts (8 pm to 6 am), provided they have written consent from the women employees concerned.

Employer must also make travel or transport arrangements for women employees who work in different shifts. This is to provide adequate protection and safety to the employees.

Lastly, every employer employing a woman should have an internal complaints committee under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.

ADVERTISEMENT

What Are the Concerns Raised by a Residents' Association?

The Federation of Residents' Welfare Associations in Indira Nagar, Bengaluru has opposed the new circular, citing reasons of public nuisance, lack of safety, and even pollution. A press release by iChange Indiranagar, a residents' welfare association, read, "To the best of our knowledge this (new circular) has been passed without any public consultation. Labour department under Section 12 of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act has the right to change Opening/Closing timings of the establishment and not to make a decision that has far reaching impact on this city."

ADVERTISEMENT

What Are the Objections Raised by Residents Associations?

Apart from those in Indiranagar, other residents' welfare associations in Bengaluru too have refused to accept the opening of commercial establishing such as bars, restaurants, delivery aggregators, and supermarkets. They have, however, acknowledged the need for 24x7 medical establishments.

Listing out their objections to the circular, Sneha Nandihal of iChange Indiranagar told The Quint, "We are opposed to not just bars and restaurants. We are against opening of any commercial establishments, except for medical and emergency related spaces late in the night."

The Indiranagar association has highlighted that commercial establishments illegally occupy residential areas, making it difficult for residents to get these evicted. The association has also said that opening of commercial spaces will lead to noise pollution which, according to them, is an infringement of Article 21 of the constitution.

The associations have also raised concerns regarding public safety and women's safety in particular. According to these associations, incidences of sexual assault on women are already on the rise. "Police are seriously understaffed and already unable to cope with issues arising from closure (of shops) at one in the morning. This notification will encourage undesirable elements, pimps, drug peddlers, and knife wielding robbers to be on the streets all night," a residents' welfare association member accused.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hotel Association Writes to Police Commissioner, Rebuts Residents

Hoteliers Association of Bengaluru, meanwhile, has written the city Police Commission Kamal Pant, asking him to enforce the order. The association claimed that no association has asked for opening of bars and pubs.

Speaking to The Quint, Veerendra Kamat, secretary of Bruhat Bengaluru Hotel Association said, "This circular is nothing but eyewash. There is no coordination between the labour department, the police, and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Each of them are passing the buck. Despite issuing the circular we have not been allowed to open our restaurants (round the clock)."

The association also clarified that the concerns raised by residents welfare associations of Indiranagar are misplaced.

"No organisation or association has asked for 24x7 opening of bars and pubs. The intention is to keep food accessible for all. It would help people. Also, the decision to (keep the restaurant) open is the prerogative of the individual restaurant owner," he added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from explainers

Topics:  Policy   Bangalore   Indian Labour Laws 

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