Dance bars will be back in business soon in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and dancers will be able to perform in bars, hotels and restaurants as the Supreme Court stayed a 2014 Maharashtra state law banning dances in such establishments.
This is the second time the SC has intervened to the rescue the bar girls who lost their source of livelihood because of the ban. In 2013, the court had declared the banning of dance bars unconstitutional, but a year later, the state government brought in another law to frustrate the apex court order.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant gave the judgement. However, they said that no obscene dance performance would be allowed and asked the government to take steps to protect the dignity of women who perform in bars, hotels and restaurants.
Chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said although the SC order mandates regulation instead of a ban, his government was in favour of a complete ban. Fadnavis also added that dance bars will not be able to reopen immediately and the state would challenge the interim order.
Former president of the Maharashtra Dance Bar Owners Association Manjeet Singh Sethi, who was at the centre of the fight to save the livelihood of dancers, said though the SC verdict was a major victory , many people in the business had doubts about whether the ruling parties and those in the opposition would ever allow bar owners to start their bars.
Referring to Fadnavis’s resolve to reinforce the ban he asked “Are we governed by the law of the land or by politicians who will act according to their whims?“.