The Supreme Court directed Maharashtra government to grant licenses to eight dance bars within two days and asked them to give an undertaking that they would not engage employees with criminal antecedents near the dance area.
“It is directed that an undertaking shall be given by appellants who have filed application that they shall not engage employees in the bar and dance area whose names have been mentioned in the affidavit given by the state.
“The undertaking shall be issued by tomorrow and the licenses shall be issued by day after tomorrow,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said.
Maharashtra government had filed an affidavit in the court informing the bench that they had not granted licenses to eight dance bars as they found some of their employees with criminal antecedents.
Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said not a single license has been issued till date.
He submitted that as FIR has been lodged against some employees of the bars, licenses were not being issued to them on the ground that they have criminal antecedents.
“Unless a person is convicted under the offence, he cannot be termed as a criminal. The licenses are being delayed on one pretext on the other,” he said.
On the issue of increasing the height of railing adjacent to the dance stage, Bhushan told the bench that such deficiencies have been addressed.
During the hearing, one of the counsel said that criminal antecedents of dancers should also be looked into and conditions be imposed on them.
The court took strong note of this and said “are you trying to convey to us that they are criminals? Nobody can earn livelihood if they are convicted. We want to save the dignity of women.
“You want to take away means of their livelihood. Dignity of women has to be maintained and no obscenity of any kind would be allowed,” the bench said.
The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on May 13.
Earlier, the apex court had rapped Maharashtra government for not granting licenses to dance bars on account of non-compliance of some of the conditions and said it is better for women to perform than begging on the streets or doing something “unacceptable” for earning livelihood.
The bench, however, had acknowledged plea of Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Maharashtra, that the state has to ensure that there is no “obscenity” in dance bars and the dignity of women is protected there.
It had asked all dance bars to get antecedents of their employees checked by local police, besides installing CCTV cameras at all entry points of dance bars.
The court had also asked dance bars to adhere to conditions like there should be railings to demarcate performance area with the place where audience will sit and watch.