Abolish archaic overcrowding rule: Pub owners request RR Patil

The call for modifying an ancient law grew louder, as several discotheque owners met Home Minister RR Patil on Tuesday with a request to alter the overcrowding law that prohibits more than 10 couples on the dance floor. Recently, cops under the pretext of precautionary measures penalised dozens of pub and discotheques in the city for overcrowding the premises, which they claimed might lead to a stampede in case of an emergency. According to pub owners, the Social Service Branch (SSB) of Mumbai police have been cashing in on this age-old rule by fining owners several thousand rupees, if they are found violating the order.

“We made a request to the home minister asking him to amend the outdated law, which is creating a lot of hassle for pub owners. ccommodating just 10 couples is impractical, and a loss to business. The law was passed when premises were smaller. Now people have got bigger premises. The minister has taken the complain in writing from us assuring that he will look into the matter and will get it amended, if it is found be outdated,” said a pub owner from Colaba, on condition of anonymity.

“The outdated law gives anybody and everybody a chance to make money. The law was framed 50 years back, which is not practical in the current scenario. Times have changed, people have adopted change, but our government still seems to be following ancient rules,” said the angry pub owner.

The condition is one of several (read box) that licensees must adhere to. MiD DAY had earlier reported on the issue (‘No more stamping on others’ toes at discos’, May 15) over how the SSB had revived an ancient law to justify their actions on pubs and discos in the city for overcrowded dance floors. Citing violation of the terms and conditions mentioned on the premises licence as per a rule framed in 1960, the police prosecuted around a dozen discs for overcrowding, asking them to cough up fines. A fine of Rs 5,500 was collected each time.

Sadhna Lalwani, owner of Hawaiian Shack, who was prosecuted for the same, had then said, “For the first time the situation has become so bad that we are unable to pay staff their salaries. The government needs to abolish such impractical rules. People spend so much on ambience, food etc. How can we just allow 10 couples? How will we make business?”

Conditions apply
Conditions to run a discotheque as mentioned on the premise licence issued by Mumbai police: 
>> The licensee is permitted to operate a discotheque at ground floor level only, in restaurant area as per the excise plan.
>> Licensee will not admit more than 10 couples at a time on the discotheque dance floor and if there is any crowding the same must be reduced.
>> Licensee should not allow customers to park their vehicles on roads and if found parking said action would be taken.
>> There should not be any public nuisance.
>> Licence can be cancelled if there are complaints from residents. 

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