Dance bars should stop serving food, says R R Patil

May 09, 2014, 14:15 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

While a draft bill proposes that dance bars shouldn’t serve liquor, the Maharashtra home minister wants to go a step further by prohibiting the establishments from serving food, too

The state is still begrudging the idea that the court has lifted the ban on dance bars. So, even after a draft amendment bill has been readied to separate bars from dance activities, Home Minister R R Patil is not satisfied and wants to bar the bars from serving food.

Bar dancers celebrate after the Supreme Court’s order lifting the ban on dance bars, last year. File pic
Bar dancers celebrate after the Supreme Court’s order lifting the ban on dance bars, last year. File pic

The draft bill will be introduced during the monsoon session of the state legislature beginning June 2, and the home department has decided to thrash the issue out with the entire state cabinet before taking the final call.

A meeting of senior officials called by Patil ended without any concrete proposal, even though the draft prepared after due diligence is ready. According to it, dance and bars will be separated, and liquor licences will not be given to establishments that want to offer dance performances to patrons.

Consensus eludes
Sources said Patil, who was convinced earlier, has certain reservations over allowing food licences to dance performance operators. While he is against serving food to the dance bar clientele, the departments of home and law and judiciary disagree with him.

According to government sources, the draft to de-link dance activity and bars was prepared after detailed discussions held with various departments such as home, law, labour and excise.

Even the state advocate general is believed to have approved it in view of the SC judgment that set aside the state government’s 2006 decision to ban dance bars. But Patil’s suggestion to not allow serving any food items at dance bars may not go down well.

'Think of rights'
Home department officials are unsure of their head’s advocacy of a complete ban, in light of the constitutional provisions that deal with the right to live and right to carry out professional activities. “The state government, which is not in favour of opening dance bars again, should take every care not to violate these provisions,” said an official.

Moreover, the police have not been able to regulate dance bar activities ever since the business started. Had the police been successful to regulate the activities with timely checks, the situation calling for a ban on the activity would not have arisen.

The official said, “One cannot guarantee effective implementation if the state decides to go ahead with separating all the bar activities. Even the ruling Congress-NCP regime seems overcautious about the issue, as allowing the activity may not go down well with voters when state assembly elections are just a few months away.”

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