Raiding pubs, bars for overcrowding is illegal
Reply to RTI query filed by hotel association reveals only those owners with discotheque licence can be booked for overcrowding; rule inapplicable to pub, permit room owners
It appears that reply given by the city police’s Social Service Branch (SSB) to the RTI query filed by the Hotel and Restaurant Association — Western India (HRA-WI) might land its former chief Vasant Dhoble, now the ACP of Vakola Division, in yet another controversy.
In its reply to the query filed by the HRA-WI members, seeking clarification on who can be charged for overcrowding, the SSB replied saying only those places that have a discotheque licence can be booked for overcrowding and that no other pubs or bars can be booked under this law.
However, during Dhoble’s tenure, the SSB raided several pubs and charged owners for overcrowding. Owners of a few discotheques, who had relevant permits to accommodate more number of people on the dance floor, were booked as well.
Former president HRA-WI Kamlesh Barot said, “Citing violation of terms and conditions mentioned on the premises licence, as per a rule framed in 1960, the police prosecuted around a dozen disco and pub owners for overcrowding and asked them to cough up fines. But what came as a surprise was many of these prosecutions don’t even fall under this law, as the owners do not have discotheque licence.”
Replying to the query filed by HRA-WI member M A Sarela, who sought clarification over the number of persons allowed in a discotheque and how many persons are allowed in a pub, the Cell — X (Hotel Branch) said the number is fixed as to how many couples can dance within the area of one square meter on the dance floor in the establishment is fixed as per rules given in Development Control Rule, 1991 and this number is mentioned in the discotheque licence, but no such licence is issued for pubs by the branch. Similarly, no such rule is applicable for eateries or permit rooms.
A pub owner, requesting anonymity, said, “Before taking up anybody’s case, the cops must first study their own rules. The RTI reply clearly states that there are no such rules for pubs or permit rooms, then why are we fined or punished for this. Even today, pub owners are forced to pay fines for overcrowding. I have already written to the hotel branch to clarify the rule. I have a disco with an area which is much more than 100 square feet and can accommodate 166 people, but the cops have stated in the licence that we can just accommodate 40 people, which is absolutely wrong.”
The HRA-WI now plans to meet the chief minister to discuss the issue and request the government to abolish or reframe the outdated laws. “We will soon meet the CM and handover the RTI reply to him, and seek his help on these outdated laws,” said Barot.
The other side
When contacted, ACP Feroz Patel said, “I won’t be able to comment now as I am out.” DCP B G Shekhar (Enforcement) was unavailable for comment.
Rs 5,500 Fine collected from pubs and discos owners for violating overcrowding law
Did you know?
The SSB has raided over 150 bars in the last few months. This not only led to an outrage amongst restaurant and bar owners, but even the common man. A campaign on social networking site Facebook called Dhoble: Oppressor of the Innocent Public has 21,113 members and counting. These members say the ACP is an oppressor. As per provisions in the Bombay Development Control Rules, 1991, the occupant load of 166.5 persons is shown for 100 sq m.
Pubs booked for violating overcrowding law
>> Royalty pub, Bandra
>> Rehab pub, Khar
>> Hawaiian Shack, Bandra
>> Trilogy club, Santacruz