1.30 am deadline to play music on New Year's Eve threatens to act as killjoy for revellers; matter to be heard in High Court today
For all those revellers who have plans to shell out some serious cash to dance the night away on New Year's eve, here's a piece of news that may send you scurrying for a backup plan.
Though the Bombay High Court has allowed bars, pubs, party halls and orchestra bars to operate till 5 am on January 1, all these establishments will have to abide by the 1.30 am deadline for playing music. Failure to do so, will invoke stringent action against the owner. The issue came to light after the cops refused to grant permission to orchestra bar owners to play music till 5 in the morning.
DCP Sheela Sahil said, "The High Court has extended the deadline for both FL-III and FL-IV license holder to remain open and serve food and drinks till 5 am, which is given every New Year. However, no such permission is given for music. If they have the court order we have no problem letting them play loudspeakers till 5 am. However, if there are no such orders, then none of them would be allowed to play music beyond 1.30 am."
According to the orchestra bar owners, there was a confusion over the order passed by the High Court which stated that all the bars could operate till 5 am on New Year, as it lacked a categorical mention about the extended deadline for playing music.
Hence, to avoid last minute harassment at the hands of the police, which will eventually take a toll on their business, the Orchestra Bar Owners Association had moved the High Court on Tuesday, seeking an extension to the deadline for playing music. However, the court deferred the matter till today. So, if the bar owners succeed in convincing the court, then all the above-mentioned establishments, including orchestra bars would be able play music till 5 am.
In an earlier report ('Orchestra bars can also serve till 5 am', Dec 24) MiD DAY had published that these bar owners, citing injustice, had moved High Court, seeking extension of the deadline to serve alcohol across their bars. And the court, accepting their argument, granted them the extension.
"The order issued by the court allows all the eateries to serve food and drinks till 5 am. However it's not the same when it comes to playing music and we have to strictly adhere to the 1.30 am deadline. Why this disparity? Just like any other five star hotel, even we should be allowed to play music in our bars on New Year's Eve. It is just one day when we get the freedom to remain open till 5 am," said Bharat Thakur, a member of Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) and Orchestra Bar Committee head.
'Better safe than sorry'
According to Thakur, last year, the police had forced several bars to shut down at the eleventh hour stating that orchestra bars were not permitted to stay open till 5 am. "We fear that the confusion over playing music will once again create problems for us. Hence, to avoid courting trouble, we decided to move court," added Thakur.
"It doesn't matter whether the confusion prevails or not. Despite the permission to operate till 5 am, the cops are going to act as party poopers. Hence it's better we party at home," said Rahul Mistry, a resident of Colaba.
Mistry added that in 2009, when he was partying at a five star hotel, the cops barged in and forced the organisers to end the celebrations, stating that it was against the rule. "I had paid Rs 7,000 for couple entry, but the celebration was ruined in just few hours, after the cops came in and asked the organisers to end the party immediately."
Vikram Khanna, a Santacruz resident grumbled, "Law should be equal for all. Why can't we have same time for all the hotels across the city? Why are people from the lower strata not allowed to enjoy like the ones enjoying at five star hotels? Some of the worst brawls occur outside five star hotels and not at these small-time orchestra bars. It appears that the government wants to extort money in the name of law and order."
Regular pubs: 1.30 am
Pubs at five star hotels: 3 am