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Maharashtra govt to amend law on dance bars

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-06-2014 Makarand Gadgil

Mumbai: The Maharashtra cabinet decided on Thursday that it will amend the law banning dance bars so that it can get rid of them without violating any constitutional or judicial ruling.

However, it is yet to decide whether it will introduce a Bill to amend the law in the remaining two days of the budget session of the state legislature, or pass an ordinance to this effect.

In July last year, the Supreme Court struck down the Maharashtra government’s 2006 Act that bans dance bars on the grounds that it was discriminatory. The 2006 law allowed three- and five-star hotels to run dance bars while it banned dance performances in other bars.

While striking down the law passed by the Maharashtra state legislature, the apex court observed that the Maharashtra Act violates Article 14 of the Constitution which deals with the principle of equality before the law.

A senior minister from the state cabinet said on condition of anonymity that ”ever since the apex court’s judgement came in, we were thinking about how to overcome this hurdle, as we were sure that we don’t want this menace in our state”.

“After consulting legal experts who advised us to remove the discriminatory clause, we also consulted opposition parties, and they have also supported our move,” he said.

However, he admitted that no decision could be taken during Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

Before the law was passed by the state government, there were around 345 licensed dance bars and around 2,500 illegal dance bars operating in the state—most of them located in Mumbai and satellite towns such as Panvel, Kalyan, Thane and Navi Mumbai. These bars employed around 75,000 bar girls and another 75,000 as support staff, which included make-up artists, drivers and security guards.

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