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Government for ban on dance bars, awaits final SC order: Khadse

A day after the Supreme Court stayed provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act banning dance performances at bars, the state government on Friday said it wants the ban to continue and is awaiting the final order of apex court in this regard.

It also said it plans to amend the existing law to hike entertain duty on dance performances or enforce strict time regulations for such performances.

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said that the Supreme Court order to stay the operation of 2014 amendment in the Maharashtra Police Act that had banned dance performances at these places was interim.

“We will await the final order and taken take steps accordingly. The government wants the ban to stay,” he said.

The order paves the way for reopening of dance bars across the state.

The Supreme Court has, however, added a rider to its interim order and allowed the licensing authorities in the state to regulate indecent dance performances at bars and other places.

Khadse said the government would consider hiking taxes or enforcing strict time regulations for such performances.

“We can increase entertainment duty on these performances or enforce strict time regulations,” he said.

The Maharashtra government had brought an amendment in 2005 — the Bombay Police Act — which was challenged in high court by an association representing restaurants and bars.

The Bombay High Court on April 12, 2006 had quashed the government’s decision and declared the provision as unconstitutional saying that it is against Article 19(1)(g) (to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business) of the Constitution.

However, the state government had moved the apex court against the high court’s order that same year.

On July 16, 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court verdict quashing the state government’s order and had said that the ban violated the constitutional right to earn a living.

The state Assembly however, on June 13, 2014, passed the Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Bill which prevented licences for dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels. The ban also covered drama theatres, cinema halls, auditoriums, sports clubs and gymkhanas, where entry is restricted only to members.

The 2014 amendment in the Maharashtra Act was challenged by the Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association and others before the apex court.

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