Shiv Sena, Oppn Slam Maharashtra Govt Over SC Dance Bar Verdict

The SC paved way for the reopening of dance bars in Maharashtra by setting aside some provisions of a 2016 law.

3 min read
 In this file photo dated 16 July 2013, performers at dance bars celebrate the court’s ruling in Mumbai.

Commenting on the Supreme Court verdict paving the way for reopening of dance bars in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena on Thursday, 17 January said that the government failed to make the law regulating dance bars foolproof.

The Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for the reopening of dance bars in Maharashtra by setting aside some provisions of a 2016 law imposing restrictions on their licensing and functioning.

Senior Sena leader Anil Parab said it was unfortunate that the apex court did not uphold the Bombay High Court's ruling, as the objective behind the 2016 law was noble.

Sena is a partner in the BJP-led government in the state.

“Why did the SC make amendments to provisions of the law? Was it because these provisions were unconstitutional or because we (the state government) did not present our side effectively?” asked Parab, a member of the state legislative council.

When the dance bar bill was placed before the state legislature, the Sena had made it clear that it should stand judicial scrutiny, Parab said.

"Not making the bill foolproof is a failure of the government," he added.

Oppn Alleges Govt-Dance Bar Owner Nexus

The Congress and NCP slammed the BJP-led Maharashtra government Thursday after the verdict.

The two parties alleged that the Devendra Fadnavis government deliberately took a soft stand on the issue in the apex court, a charge the BJP denied.

“It is the nexus of BJP leaders, the chief minister and bar owners’ association which has led to the order,” NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged.

"We will go to the people with this issue and we will again ban dance bars after our party comes to power," he said.

Malik alleged that meetings were held between Fadnavis and bar owners' association at the latter's official residence `Varsha', leading to "weakening" of the government's position before the apex court. The party, however, did not specify when the meeting took place.

Senior NCP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde asked the government to take immediate legal steps to ensure that dance bars do not resume operating.

State Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant too accused the government of colluding with dance bar owners.

"We would like to ask what is the nexus between the government and dance bar owners. The BJP should also answer how much funds it has received for elections," Sawant said.

Fadnavis, when in Opposition, was vocal against dance bars, he said.

“The BJP should now tell if it wants to ruin the lives of young men and women by allowing dance bars to reopen,” the Congress leader said.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan said the government conspired to facilitate reopening of dance bars "through the backdoor".

The BJP-led government failed to present its case effectively, he said, asking how much "funds" has the government collected.

Dance bar owners had contributed to the chief minister's relief fund in 2016 which made their proximity to the government evident, he claimed.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the former home minister RR Patil took the decision to ban dance bars as part of social commitment, but the BJP government was not serious in enforcing it.

State Presented Its Case Well: Govt

The Maharashtra government, meanwhile, said it will check any "untoward activity" taking place under the garb of dance bars. Home Minister Ranjit Patil asserted that it will respect the Supreme Court’s verdict on the issue.

"The state has not received a written copy of the court order. Once we get that, we will study it and decide further course of action," the Minister of State for Home (Urban) said.

"We are committed to abide by the court's verdict and respect it. Within the ambit of the decision, we will maintain vigilance so that no untoward activities happen under the garb of dance bars," Patil said.

Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the BJP-led state government presented its case well before the Supreme Court.

What the Court Said

Clearing the path for licences allowing dance bars to operate, the court permitted them to be located a kilometre away from religious places and educational institutions. It also allowed tips to performers but disallowed showering of currency on them.

The apex court quashed the provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016, like the mandatory installations of CCTV cameras in the dance bars saying they violated privacy.

The bench, however, upheld the provision restricting the timing of operation of dance bars from 6 pm to 11:30 pm.

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