The Supreme Court has slammed the Maharashtra government for denying licenses to nearly 200 dance bars in Mumbai and prohibiting opening of new dance bars within the vicinity of educational institutions. Having cleared the way for the issuance of dance bar licenses to hotels and restaurants, the Court had also scraped off the conditions of installation of CCTV cameras in the performance area as a prerequisite to obtain licenses.
The apex court observed dance as a profession and condemned any regulatory measures that are prohibitory. “Dance is a profession. If it is obscene, then it loses its legal sanctity. Govt regulatory measures can’t be prohibitory,” the Supreme Court told the Maharashtra government as reported by Zee news.
Responding to a petition that raised objection over dancers, the Supreme Court said that it is better women work in a proper regulatory framework without prohibitions. “It is better for women to perform in dance bars and earn than begging on streets or indulging in unacceptable activities,” the apex judicial authority added.
In 2005, the state government banned dance bars in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra. Nearly 1,500 bars across the state had employed more than 75,000 women dancers, who were suddenly left without jobs.
In 2015, the Supreme Court overturned the Maharashtra government’s total ban on dance bars and directed the state government to issue licenses to these establishments.
In this environment where moral policing raises it’s ugly head from time to time, this latest move by the Supreme Court is a truly welcome. The debate over women’s exploitation in these bars though will continue.
Feature Image Courtesy: The Hindu