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Maharashtra Council passes Bill to regulate dance bars


New Delhi: Jail term of up to six months for inappropriately touching or misbehaving with a bar dancer and hefty fine for violating licence norms are some of the key provisions of a landmark Bill passed on Monday in Maharashtra Legislative Council with an aim to regulate dance bars.

The Bill, which sets the stage for reopening of dance bars after more than a decade, and comes post a recent Supreme Court verdict, was passed in the Upper House by voice vote with Deputy Chairman Vasant Dawkhare in Chair. The Bill was piloted by Leader of the House and Minister for Revenue Eknath Khadse.

The legislation seeks to prohibit “obscene” dances (dances which have sexual connotations, sexual gestures, actions which hint at sexual intercourse during a performance) in hotels, restaurants, bar rooms and other establishments. It lays down guidelines to “protect the dignity and safety of women in such places with a view to prevent their exploitation”.

Any person seeking a licence under the new law to open dance bars in hotels, restaurants and bar rooms will have to provide conducive working condition for women employees and take adequate steps for their protection. Besides, the owner will have to ensure adequate security of people visiting such a place. Dance bar licence will not be issued for places which already have permission for discotheque and orchestra.

The owner/manager of such an establishment, if found violating the licence conditions, shall face a jail term of up to 5 years or Rs 25 lakh fine or both. If he continues to violate the norms, a fine of Rs 25,000 will slapped per day. A patron cannot misbehave with the dancer or touch her inappropriately. Violating this rule shall invite a jail term of up to 6 months or Rs 50,000 fine or both. The owner/manager will not let dancers perform any “obscene” dance and shall ensure no woman is sexually exploited. If found guilty, such a person shall invite a jail sentence of 3 years or Rs 10 lakh fine or both.

Further, if the person continues to commit the same crime, each day a fine of Rs 10,000 shall be imposed. According to the legislation, a patron will not be allowed to throw coins, currency notes or any object that are monetary in nature on the dance floor. The Bill is expected to be introduced in the Assembly tomorrow, and going by the all-round support it received in the Council, a smooth sailing is likely in the Lower House too.

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