Dance bars: SC asks Maharashtra to decide in 2 weeks on licence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to implement its earlier order on dance bars and decide within two weeks the hoteliers' application seeking gra nt of licence for running them in the state.

A bench of justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant expressed unhappiness that the state was yet to implement its earlier order. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Maharashtra, however, said that any direction of the court will be respected and adhered to.

The bench, meanwhile, allowed Vinod Patil, President of R R Patil Foundation, to intervene in the matter. Patil in his plea had claimed that reopening of dance bars would increase crime.

The Maharashtra government had amended the 2005 Bombay Police Act, which was challenged in high court by Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association. The Bombay High Court on April 12, 2006 had quashed the government's decision and declared the provision unconstitutional, saying it was against Article 19(1)(g) (to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business) of the Constitution.

However, the state government had moved the apex court against the high court's order that same year. On July 16, 2013, the Supreme Court had upheld the Bombay High Court verdict quashing state government's order, saying the ban violated the constitutional right to earn a living.

The state assembly had on June 13 last year passed the Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Bill which prevented licenses for dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels. The ban also covered drama theatres, cinema halls, auditoriums, sports clubs and gymkhanas, where entry is restricted only to members.

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