VII. Re-opening dance bars (2013)
What: The Supreme Court on July 16 gave its go-ahead to the reopening of Dance Bars in the maximum city and elsewhere in the state.
Case Speak: On 15th of August, 2005, Home Minister RR Patil announced that dance bars would be shut all across the state. He stated that the dance bars were corrupting the moral fibre of the youth, and that dance bars were creating havoc in Maharashtra. Because of the ban, 75,000 girls became unemployed, and although a rehabilitation program was in place, it wasn’t implemented, and many of the girls left the state or had to resort to prostitution. Eight years later, the Supreme Court finally struck down the ban. The Supreme Court had taken up the case after the state government contested the 2006 Bombay High Court order that the Act prohibiting dancing violated the right to carry on one’s profession under Article 19 of the Constitution. The HC also held that banning dances in some establishments while permitting them in others (like five star hotels and pubs) was contrary to the rule of equality.
Homegrown Verdict: Despite the fact that the ban had been lifted, the police has not handed the licenses to the bar owners, stating that they’re waiting for an order from the state government. To counter the verdict, the state government is working on an ordinance to ban dance bars. Another option being considered is making getting licences more difficult by adding stringent conditions and making the annual license fee unaffordable. While the claims that some dance bars lead to trafficking and prostitution may be valid, one can also argue that a majority of the girls make an honest living by dancing, and taking that form of employment without proper means for rehabilitation organized by the government is incredibly unjust. If the state government had its way and the bars don’t re-open, it must ensure that the rehabilitation of the dancers, which as promised, is fulfilled.