On April 12, the Maharashtra assembly had unanimously passed a Dance Bar Regulation Bill that severely punishes those who violates them. Under the bill,
- Dance bars should be at least 1 km away from educational and religious institutions.
- They can be open only between 6pm -11:30pm.
- Liquor is banned in the performance area of dance bars.
- They cannot be run in residential buildings but are allowed to operate in semi-residential areas with the consent of three-fourth residents.
For those who violate,
- Owners and operators will face up to 5 years of prison time or fine of rupees 25000 if they violate rules.
- Owners will be held accountable in case of exploitation of women and obscenity.
However, during the hearings between October 2015 and March 2016, the Supreme court did not approve two of the amendments. Against this, Maharashtra government banned dance bars completely.
On Monday, the Supreme Court clearly told Maharashtra government to not overstep its powers by defying the orders of the apex court. “Dance is a profession. If it is obscene, then it loses its legal sanctity. However, the government regulatory measures can’t be prohibitory. It’s better for women to perform in dance bars than begging on streets or indulging in unacceptable activities,” said the Supreme Court.
The court has now stated that Maharashtra government has the power to protect women who work at dance bars.