New Delhi, May 10: Dance bars in Mumbai will not be back in business at least till mid-July, with the Supreme Court today staying the Bombay High Court order lifting a ban on them.
The high court, in its April 12 order, had struck down the Maharashtra government law banning dance performances in eating joints, permit rooms and bars. But it stayed renewal of licences to allow the state government to appeal in the apex court.
The Supreme Court today extended the stay and posted the matter for hearing after the second week of July.
Varsha Kale, a representative of the bar girls, described the interim order as unfortunate. She said about one lakh girls depended on the dance bars for a living and they desperately needed money.
Dance Bar Association president Manjit Singh Ahluwalia said: “We are unhappy but we hope that the Supreme Court will recall its order on the next day of hearing after summer vacation.”
Earlier, some of the best lawyers in the country argued the case. While Harish Salve and Fali S. Nariman represented the state government, Soli J. Sorabjee, Mukul Rohtagi, Rajiv Dhawan and Indrajai Singh fought for the bar owners and bar girls.
Salve said the ban imposed last year was aimed at preventing practices derogatory to the dignity of women. The decision was not abrupt, with the process initiated in 2002. The state women’s commission and several NGOs were consulted, he added.
Salve said there were 345 licensed dance bars and over 2,500 unlicensed ones, and they created law and order problems.
But Sorabjee argued that dancing by itself was not bad, unlike gambling, and that if there was any vulgar performance, police could take action. He added that the ban was discriminatory because it allowed performances in theatres, auditoriums and “3-star-and-above hotels”.
Singh pointed out that the dance performances had been going on for 40 years and that at least 12 girls had committed suicide after the ban.