Maharashtra considers fresh ordinance on dance bars after Supreme Court order

The BJP government in Maharashtra may go for review petition of the Supreme Court order on dance bars or issue a fresh ordinance for stricter norms, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar indicated on Friday. Officials, however, opined that the move would not serve any purpose, as the apex court has allowed most of the conditions in the state’s act on dance bars.

Mungantiwar on Friday said that the state government will consult legal experts and state law and judiciary department to decide the next course of action. He said that if the need be, the government will also think of bringing an ordinance to retain the strict conditions for the bars. He said all political parties in the state are unanimous over putting restrictions on dance bars.

Officials from home as well as law and judiciary departments, however, feel that the ordinance or a review petition would not serve any purpose. “Barring the clause related to the showering of money which is part of the Act,other three-four conditions on which the government has been rapped are from the rules framed for the implementation of the law. Of the 39 rules under the Act, only five to six have been touched upon by the court. In such a scenario there is no question that review of the order will achieve anything more,” said an official from the law and judiciary department.

Another official from the department said that bringing an ordinance for certain measures such as making CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras inside the bars mandatory, will amount to contempt of court. “If the government thinks that filing review petition will help it in buying some time or help in pacifying the people who are opposed to dance bars, it won’t work. By filing review petition, it would not get any relief from the order as the apex court is unlikely to stay its order. The review petition is unlikely to be admitted,” said the official privy to the developments.

The official said that the Act has been upheld by the SC, unlike the two amendments in Mumbai Police Act to ban bars brought by the previous Congress-led government. “Not only the amendments were quashed twice between 2006 and 2013, but also contempt notice was issued to the then home minister. Instead of going for review, the government should be able to convince people about the success,” he said.

The officials from the home department are of the opinion that there are adequate provisions that anyway make opening and running a dance bar very difficult.

“During the hearing of the case over last three year, the SC directed government twice to issue licences to bars. Despite having issued the licence to three bars, none could operate. There are many stringent conditions including fire safety norms, size of stage, prohibition in residential building, stringent provision of penalty and imprisonment, operation timing that may prove deterrent to opening of the bars. The government may take at least three to four months to decide on distance of bars from religious and educational institutions,” the home department official said.

First Published: Jan 18, 2019 22:35 IST

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