SC seeks Maharashtra’s response on dance bar licences

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to respond to a plea on imposing of “unreasonable” conditions for the grant of licences for dance performances in beer bars and restaurants in the state.

An apex court bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh also made it clear that there was no question of going back on its last year’s October 15 order staying the operation of the Maharashtra Police (Second Amendment) Act, 2014, that prohibited dance performances at eating places, beer bars and restaurants.

While staying the Act’s provisions that prohibited dance performances at eatries and other places, the apex court said: “As we are staying the provision, if the members of the petitioner (Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association) apply for licences, the same shall be considered in accordance with law without taking note of the restriction as Section 33-A has been stayed by us.”

The court reiterated its order of November 26, 2015, asking the Maharashtra government to “consider and decide” within two weeks the grant of licences for dance performances after it was told that the state government was not implementing the apex court’s October 15 order.

The court on Wednesday sought government’s response after the petitioner, the Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association, told it that the government was imposing unreasonable conditions for the grant of licences.

While staying the operation of Section 33-A and 33-B of the Bombay Police Act, 1951, the apex court on October 15 noted that the provision was brought back in the Maharashtra Police Act in 2014 after it was held ultra vires in 2013 by the apex court.

These sections prohibiting dance performances in eating house, permit room or beer bar – which came into force on August 14, 2005 – were struck down as unconstitutional by the Bombay High Court on April 12, 2006.

Staying the operation of the provisions prohibiting dance performances, the apex court said on October 15: “However, we add a rider that no performance of dance shall remotely be expressive of any kind of obscenity in any manner.”

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