Shreehari Aney, who resigned as Maharashtra Advocate General after a furore over his separate Marathwada remarks, today cautioned the government on "legislating morality" on the dance bars issue.
"As far as these dance bars are concerned, the problem of women working should be considered, along with men working, as a right to livelihood," he said.
"In an industry where work is of a hazardous nature, laws are required to ensure that these hazards are mitigated," Aney told PTI in an interview.
"In dance bars where women perform before a predominantly male audience, there are built-in occupational hazards. But merely because there are hazards, you can't stop the industry. The correct way would be to ensure that those hazards are minimised," he said.
"The lawmaking process is getting confused in a moral dimension. To legislate morality is an extremely difficult thing," Aney said.
On the other hand, to legislate protection (of women) is easy, he added. "If framing of laws is done for the purpose of security of women at the workplace and to stop such anti-social activities as prostitution, it would not be a difficult law to frame," Aney said.
"But if consideration of moral policing enters the picture, framing of such laws becomes problematic and it is extremely difficult to frame laws legislating morality," he said.
Aney's remarks come against the backdrop of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' recent statement that the government will bring a comprehensive new legislation on the dance bar ban in the ongoing budget session of the state legislature.
The Supreme Court recently cleared the decks for the issuance of dance bar licences to hotels and restaurants in Mumbai as it modified the conditions for the permit and excluded installation of CCTV cameras from restaurants and dance performance area.
The state government had in 2005 banned dance bars in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra. Nearly 1,500 bars across the state had employed more than 75,000 women dancers.