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Issue licence to dance bar, No CCTV enjoyment for cops

CCTV cameras shall be installed at the entrance only and not at the restaurant or performance areas.

Danc Bar-AV

The Supreme Court has asked the Maharashtra government to issue dance licences to hotels and restaurants in the city by March 15. The apex court ordered that CCTV should not be installed at places where bar dancers perform as it amounts to violation of privacy of performers. The state government had earlier imposed a condition that the live feed of performance be made available to the nearest police station for monitoring. Even though the apex court had overturned the state government’s decision to ban dance bars but the latter is yet to grant licences to hotels and restaurants for dance performances. The government had enforced stringent conditions for the reopening of the dance bars which was criticised by dance bar association members. They had petitioned the apex court after Maharashtra Police imposed 24 new conditions on them before allowing them to open dance bars.

Giving three days’ time to the owners of the hotels and restaurants to comply with the modified conditions, the apex court bench, comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, said competent authorities would issue licences in 10 days and thereafter.

“We are certain that competent authorities will not conceive of anything to stall the grant of licence,” the court said and added that the authorities will “comply with the command of this court and not venture to defy it”.

Some of the other rules the police and state had asked for were that no person with a criminal history should be allowed to work at a dance bar, and that a three-foot wall must be built between the performance area and audience seating area.

Varsha Kale, president of Womanist Party of India said, “CCTV’s won’t be installed near the area where bar girls perform as it is a violation of privacy. If CCTV’s are installed there then customers won’t visit dance bars as they are concerned about their privacy. However, cameras will be installed near the entrance area for averting law and order problem.”

Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra tweeted, “State can’t permit obscenity it has seen in the past in dance bars. We will approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court with an alternative. But the Hon SC has disallowed the condition of live monitoring through CCTV and has asked to enforce surveillance at the entrance only.”

The court order came after the Maharashtra government watered down some of the conditions for the grant of dance bar licences.

There was an ongoing tussle between the state and judiciary regarding the issue, after the state banned dance bars in 2005, and the court declared this unconstitutional in 2013. Following the verdict, the state government had again imposed a law banning dance bars in 2014. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier said he supported the ban on the bars.

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