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Dance bar and hotel owners move Supreme Court against new law

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New Delhi: Several dance bar and hotel owners in Mumbai on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the government’s new law alleging that it results in banning of dance performances by artistes.

The petition claimed that the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016 violates the fundamental rights of hotel and bar owners and sought the court’s direction to declare it unconstitutional, invalid, void and unenforceable.

“The result of the impugned Act and Rules made thereunder is that under the garb of regulation it literally results in banning of performance of dance of any kind or type in an eating house, permit room or beer bar. The ban has been held to be unconstitutional by both the high court and this court vide its judgment…,” said the plea filed by Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR).

It also said members of the petitioner association have all the requisite permissions and licences for running bars and restaurants and comply with the conditions for running such establishments including conditions for serving alcohol.

The plea said the artistes performing in places of public entertainment are qualified and talented and are entitled to practice their profession which is their fundamental right.

“Apart from the same constituting the fundamental rights of artistes, it is also fundamental right of the petitioner’s members to carry on their trade and business subject to permissible and reasonable regulations.

“However, the effect of the impugned Act and Rules will lead to a total prohibition and the same will constitute a violation of their fundamental rights to carry on any business, trade and profession of their choice…,” it said.

The petition sought an ad-interim exparte order directing

that till the final disposal of the plea, the Maharashtra government and Mumbai Police Commissioner and their officials be restrained from taking any steps pursuant to or on the basis of the Act.

The association said that inspite of orders passed by the apex court, the state did not renew or issue licences to the hotel owners. Instead, some of them were issued communication directing compliance with 26 fresh conditions some of which conditions were impermissible under the constitutional framework, it said.

The earlier petition of hotel and dance bar association which was listed before the apex court for hearing today was adjourned and would be heard on August 2.

The apex court had earlier rapped the Maharashtra government for not granting licences to dance bars on account of non-compliance of some conditions and had said it was better for women to perform then begging on streets or doing something “unacceptable” for earning livelihood.

—PTI

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