Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said his government was not in favour of opening dance bars and would explore legal options after Supreme Court asked it to implement its order in this regard.
“We respect the Supreme Court’s order. However, we are principally against opening of dance bars. Will explore all legal options including legislative intervention,” Fadnavis said.
Earlier in the day, the apex court asked the Maharashtra government to implement its earlier order on dance bars and decide within two weeks hoteliers’ application seeking grant of licence for running them in the state.
The Maharashtra government had amended the 2005 Bombay Police Act, which was challenged in High Court by Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association.
The Bombay High Court on April 12, 2006 had quashed the government’s decision and declared the provision unconstitutional, saying it was against Article 19(1)(g) (to practice 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 had upheld the Bombay High Court verdict quashing state government’s order, saying the ban violated the constitutional right to earn a living.
The state Assembly had on June 13, 2014 passed the Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Bill which prevented licenses 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.
Restaurant owners had challenged the law saying many of its members would be forced into prostitution if the state refused to allow dance performances.
The state police had cracked down on dance performances in bars for the first time in 2005. Elite establishments, including five star hotels, were, however, exempted.
Last month, the Supreme Court had stayed the operation of 2014 amendment in the Maharashtra Police Act that had banned dance performances at bars and some other places, paving the way for reopening of dance bars across the state.