Mumbai: The Supreme Court on Wednesday didn’t stay a new Maharashtra law to prevent obscenity in dance bars, but it allowed the state’s dance bars – that have been granted a license – to operate without having to implement the law that puts these bars under CCTV surveillance.
The court said putting CCTVs in dance bars may violate the privacy of people patronizing the bars. On a separate issue of the Maharashtra government asking to ban the serving of liquor in dance bars, the Supreme Court questioned the state’s hypocrisy. It asked the government why it doesn’t ban the sale of liquor in the entire state.
The apex court adjourned the case for a final hearing on November 24. Maharashtra recently framed a new law – the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act, 2016 – which imposes various conditions on bar owners, including putting the bar under CCTV surveillance. The law also says that bar rooms where dances are staged will be open to the public only between 6 P.M. and 11.30 P.M.
The state’s counsel said the CCTV is a must to regulate bars. The Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association contended that the restriction imposed by state government was in violation of fundamental rights of owners and bar girls.
Maharashtra’s counsel said last week that CCTV would help in curbing obscene dance performances. It refuted the allegations of bar owners that the police will be getting a live feed of performances in the police stations.
If somebody alleges violation of the provision of the Act, the recorded version of the CCTV will be able to show the veracity in such allegations,” an affidavit filed last week by Maharashtra’s standing counsel Nishant Katneshwarkar said.
“The bar room is a public place and with the installation of CCTV cameras in the said area, there will be no encroachment on privacy of the people/viewers of the dance. Also, in case of any untoward incident inside a bar room, the police will be able to investigate the offence in proper direction,” it added.