Maharashtra Assembly Passes Dance Bar Bill

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Assembly has unanimously passed the Dance Bar Regulation Bill, which has provisions for stringent actions against the violators.

The Bill was cleared by the Legislative Council on Monday, paving the way for reopening of the dance bars.

Minister of State for Home, Ram Shinde tabled the Bill in the Assembly and it was passed unanimously without any debate.

The new Bill fixes accountability on the owner in case of violation of rules, exploitation of women employees, or in cases of obscenity.

Owners or operators face up to up to five years in jail and fines of up to Rs. 25,000 for violations. Separate rules are being formulated on this, based on the provisions of the Bill.

According to the new conditions, dance bars must be at least a kilometre from any education or religious institution, their timings restricted between 6 PM and 11.30 PM, and liquor not to be served in the performance area.

The Bill also bans running bars in the residential buildings and permits them in semi-residential ones only if the three-fourths residents consent.

The Bill also has a provision to repeal amendments to Section 33 (A) of the Maharashtra Police Act that were earlier struck down by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, during hearings between October 2015 and March 2016, struck down two amendments through which the Maharashtra government banned dance bars. The court, however, clarified the Maharashtra government has the power to contain ‘obscenity’ and safeguard women who work at the bars.

Following this, the Maharashtra Cabinet decided to bring in a new law to regulate dance bars.