Bench said, it was duty of the State to curb obscenity, but it can not target the profession of dance altogether.
Taking Maharashtra Government to the task over its resistance to reopen the dance bars, the Supreme Court on Monday said that it was better to dance then go to streets for begging or for that matter going to “places which are not acceptable” to earn a livelihood.
“It is better to dance, than going to streets and beg or earn ones livelihood by going to unacceptable places,” said a Division Bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh pointing out that while it was duty of the state to curb obscenity, it could not target a profession of dance in its name.
Taking exception to the “mindset and the attitude” of trying to curb the dance bar by way of regulation which can’t otherwise be done through laws, the bench said: “As a state, it is your duty to protect the dignity of the woman. How can you say that if a woman goes to a workplace and there is obscenity, then the workplace itself should go.”
“Dignity of the woman has to be dutifully maintained. There can’t be any obscene or offensive act. You can regulate it, but you can’t say ban the dance bars all together,” it said.
Stressing that there should be a balance between permitting the dance bars to function and curbing the obscenity, the bench said that regulation regulating the dance bars can’t be stretched to prohibition, pointing out that the State’s entire “mindset is prohibiting”.
The court’s observation came while hearing of a plea by the Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (IHRA) questioning the regulations that have made the operation of dance bars almost nearly impossible. One of such regulation say that there could not be a dance bar within one km radius of a place of religion.
Senior counsel Jayant Bhushan, who had appeared for IHRA, submitted before the Court that it was unthinkable to have a dance bar in Mumbai which is not within one km radius of a religious place.
While noting that the Maharashtra state government has complied with its earlier directions for granting licences to dance bars, the court observed that the home department of the Maharashtra government would with “promptitude” complete the verification of the people working in the dance bars as per its orders.
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