No dance bars allowed to operate in Maha, is moral policing going on in Maha; asks SC
"It seems like total moral policing is going on in the state," the bench said.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, appearing for Maharashtra, said that all the 81 applicants who sought licences for dance bars did not have clearances from fire department, among other things.
On the fateful night of December 28-29, last year, a massive fire had swept through two resto-pubs at the Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai, resulting in the death of 14 people.
Naphade further said that in 30 years of his association with Mumbai, he have hardly seen a single restaurant which is fire compliant.
The senior lawyer said whenever a young boy and girl are seen together, adverse inferences are drawn.
The bench observed that with the change of time, the definition of obscenity has also changed and now a days even live-in relationships are accepted by the society and the law (the court referred to the domestic violence Act), which earlier was not acceptable.
"Earlier, filmmakers used to show two flowers or two birds chirping instead of showing kiss or love making scenes in movies but now the time has changed", the bench said in a lighter vein.
Hotel and restaurant owners, bar girls and others have challenged the new law -- the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016 by separate petitions.
At the outset, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for hotel and restaurants owners who have challenged the new law regulating dance bars, said, under the new law, the state has imposed conditions of installation of CCTV cameras in dance bars, which was in violation with the Right to Privacy.
The bench, said, the CCTV installation may not be disputed as it could help in collecting evidences after an incident at the bar.
Naphade intervened and said "dance bar is a public place".
Bhushan further argued that there is no empirical data to show that bar girls are trafficked or coerced to take up the job in entirety.
"Moreover, indulging in sex trade in India is not illegal per se but what is illegal under the Immoral traffic Act is running a brothel or trafficking," he said.
"It is wrong to take a moralistic view of the dance bars," he said.
The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on August 23.
Yesterday, the apex court had commenced final hearing on pleas of hotel and restaurant owners challenging a Maharashtra law imposing new restrictions on licensing and functioning of dance bars in the state.
"It was observed that such dances were derogatory to the dignity of women and were likely to deprave, corrupt or injure public morality," the state government had said in its reply.
"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," it had said.(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)