The Supreme Court today directed Maharashtra to expeditiously decide on 69 pending applications for licenses to open dance bars in four weeks under old rules and the directions issued by it from time to time.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said that the 69 applications pending with the state government should be decided by the competent authority within four weeks in accordance with old rules and directions of the court. The direction came after senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for state government, informed the court that till December 14, 2016, total of 69 application for licenses have been filed and were being looked into by competent authority.
It asked the authority to keep in mind the order of November 24 last year in which the apex court had asked the applicants, who have not been granted licence, to submit their applications to the authority to get the licence and said that licences should be given to them on grounds of parity with those who have been already given. The bench posted the matter after six weeks for further hearing.
Maharashtra government, in an affidavit filed before the court, had earlier defended the operation of a new law meant to regulate licensing and functioning of dance bars in the state.
The new law, Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016 has been challenged by hotel and restaurant owners before the apex court.
The state government in its reply has said, “It was observed that such dances were derogatory to the dignity of women and were likely to deprave, corrupt or injure public morality. “It was also brought to the notice of the State Government that the places where such dances were staged were used as places for immoral activities and also as a place for solicitation for the purpose of prostitution”.
The state said that prevention of obscenity in public places is a part of public policy in India and was reflected in provision of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act, 2016 gives effect to such Public Policy,” it said.