The Bombay High Court yesterday declined to grant the owner of the infamous Duru Bar in Ulhasnagar any interim relief against an order of a single judge bench of the high court, who had upheld the Thane Police Commissioner’s order to cancel the bar’s licences.
MiD DAY had exposed (Dance bar struts along despite 1,503 raids, licence recall, October 27) how the notorious dance bar, where a couple of murders had occurred in the past, continued to operate despite its licences being cancelled.
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar, however, admitted the bar’s appeal challenging the single judge’s order. Arguing the case, senior advocate Jamshed Cama contended that the 2005 murder of the bar’s proprietor, which was one of the grounds for revocation of the licences, was prior to the ownership of his client.
The property was purchased by Mahesh Shivram Putharan in 2009. Putharan is the proprietor of Spring Valley Hotel and Restaurant, which runs Duru Bar. The bar’s licences for running an eating house, public entertainment and orchestra were cancelled shortly after the murder of bookie Rajesh Kukreja on June 18. Putharan then challenged the cancellation before the appellate authority, the Principal Secretary (Appeals) at the Home Department. The appellate authority upheld the cancellation and Putharan moved high court.
On October 10, Justice S C Dharmadhikari upheld the cancellation, observing, “I am of the opinion that in the larger public interest and considering that the petitioner’s establishment was involved in two serious crimes, this is not a fit case for interference in writ jurisdiction.
It is not for the first time that the establishment has witnessed a ghastly and serious act of an individual being killed. The incident of 2005 and equally of 2012 would indicate that if the petitioners are allowed to continue with their license and business at the establishment, there will be a serious law and order problem.”
Interestingly, Dilip Shetty, one of the owners of Duru, had said the licences were not yet cancelled and were ‘under process’. He insisted that the bar had remained closed since Kukreja’s murder.
Bone of contention
The subject of dispute in the petition is that Putharan’s men washed the bloodstains on the steps leading to the bar on instruction of the police. On the other hand, the chargesheet has arraigned Putharan as an accused for destroying evidence.
The petition also contends that the staircase, on which the blood was found, was not even a part of the establishment and only led to it. The stabbing had taken place at 9.35 am and the blood had to be cleaned to allow patrons to access the joint.
“About 30 to 35 men are employed by the bar and their families are dependent on them. If the licence is cancelled they will be put in difficulty and our business will be affected… our licenses were last renewed in January 2012, after the 2005 incident. [My client] has only come into the picture after that incident,” Cama told the court. The matter is now likely to be heard in December.