The Supreme Court today stayed a Maharashtra state law that bans dance performances in bars, hotels and restaurants, and observed that the state should rather concentrate on taking measures that ensure safety and improve conditions of people working as bar dancers.
The Maharashtra govt has been pressing for a ban on dance bars for almost a decade in order to “protect the dignity of women”. The dancers, on the other hand, argued that they would be forced into prostitution if their only source of livelihood is snatched away.
In 2005, the Maharashtra govt forced dance bars to close. The Bombay High Court in 2006, and then the Supreme Court in 2013 quashed the ban as it violated the right to “practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.” However, the Maharashtra govt devised a new, similar law in 2014 to bypass the SC judgement, and once again banned dance bars rendering nearly 75,000 bar dancers unemployed.
The final hearing will take place on November 6. The Chief Minister said that the govt will abide by the SC decision, but will continue pressing the demand for a ban.
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