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Confusion over deadline for bars, discos

Circular by home department allows discotheques of four-star-and-above rating to operate till 3 am but state labour dept says it's against the law

With the New Year's Eve round the corner, a circular issued by the home department has created confusion for clubs and their patrons.

The circular states that discotheques falling under four stars and above category can stay open for business till 3 am, but the labour department insists it violates the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act, 1948 which states eateries cannot stay open after midnight.

Meanwhile, hotels and permit rooms in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane have got an extension to serve food and liquor till 1.30 am, but they'll have to ensure they down the shutters on time.

Not done!
However, officials of the state labour department are arguing that the home department is usurping the powers conferred to the state labour department, which deals with Bombay Shops & Establishment Act-1948.

Conflicting law
As per the provisions made in Chapter 4 and Section 19 (I) of the Act, any eating-house, hotel or restaurant cannot start its business before 5 am and remain open beyond midnight. Hence, the circular issued by the home dept is not in keeping with the law, said an official.

Officials of the labour department argued that the circular is flouting the provisions of the Bombay Shops & Establishment Act, as it does not allow any discrimination between establishments from cities and categories.

They added that even if an establishment seeks concession in timings, the state, only after seeking advice from the State Labour Commissioner on merits of the case, grants the permission with certain terms and conditions.

For any change or modification in the provisions of the act, the matter has to be approved by state cabinet, followed by the state legislature, and finally then by the President of India.

Clearing the air
However, sources in the home department said that the circular was issued to eliminate any confusion about the timings. Also sources say that the circular was issued on the basis of recommendations made by a committee after discussions with departments concerned.

Meanwhile, an official from the home department said, as they are the license issuing authority, they enjoy the regulating powers too.

The law
According to, Section 2 (VIII) of the Bombay Shops & Establishment Act-1948, the state labour department regulates the service rules of workers in shops, commercial establishments, lodges and hotels, restaurants, eating houses, theatres, and pubic amusement or entertainment venues.

As per the provisions made in Chapter 4 and Section 19 (I) of act, any eating-house, hotel or restaurant cannot start its business before 5 am and remain open beyond midnight.

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