Following the Supreme Court’s verdict on allowing the re-opening of dance bars that were closed since 2005 across Maharashtra, the BJP-led state government is now planning to bring an ordinance to stop the operation of dance bars in the state.
Let us rewind to 2005 to brief out about the dancing bar case of Maharashtra, and especially Mumbai. The city had a total of 700 dance bars, of which, merely 307 were legal – which remained to be the root reason for closure of all these bars, along with the idea that these bars “left people’s minds corrupted”. These led to cases and a lot of Maratha MPs made noises demanding closure – which finally made its way and hence, an order was passed on January 26, 2005 to ban all dance bars in Mumbai – licensed or unlicensed.
The overnight shut down left as many as 1.5 lakh people unemployed – of which, 75,000 were women who lost their jobs. In 2013, the Supreme Court finally lifted the ban, but Maharashtra government passed an ordinance in 2014 to reinstate the ban that procured till 2016; and finally, the state government came up with a Bill that implied heavy restrictions on these bars – making it almost impossible to run them, and yet, illegal bars continued to operate in the state.
Fast forwarding to 2019, the Supreme Court relaxed some of the stringent norms introduced in 2016 law citing the fact that “liquor and dance can co-exist” on Thursday. Striking down some of the rules that made functioning of dance bars virtually impossible, the apex court ruled that there could be ‘regulations’ but not ‘total prohibition’. A day after the order, the Maharashtra government stated that “after analysis of the Supreme Court order and discussions on it with the law and justice departments, if needed, we will issue an ordinance to stop dance bars in Mumbai” to protect the dignity of women and maintain a balance between public interest and the constitutional right to earn a livelihood.