Mumbai, August 10: Calling the blanket ban imposed by the Maharashtra government on dance bars in Mumbai, the Supreme Court on Friday called the ban a case of "total moral policing." The Supreme Court also said that the Maharashtra state government did not allow even a single performance in the dance bars and issued no new licences, in the name of controlling obscenity, reported the Times of India.
The top court questioned Maharashtra government's "presumption" that all performances by dance bar girls are obscene. Citing the example of Bollywood, a bench of Justice A K Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan, said that the definition, perception and understanding of obscenity also changes with time. The TOI report mentions that the bench referred to the earlier trend in Bollywood, where filmmakers used to show scenes of "birds and flower" as a substitute for love making scenes. But now, with the change in times and audience, lovemaking scenes are part of the films.
The bench also said that though the state government has a right to regulate the dance bars, the authorities should not have acted with a biased mindset that made them decide that all the dance performances (in the bars) are obscene. The apex court's observation came in the light of the fact that not a single dance bar was allowed to operate after the crackdown on dance bars in Mumbai.
The court was hearing a plea of dance bar owners, who challenged the validity of the 'Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act, 2016'. The dance bars owners association, has challenged the stringent rules put in place for dance bars business.
According to the new law, serving alcohol is not permissible where bar girls dance and bars can only operate between 6.30 pm and 11.30 pm. Maharashtra's standing counsel Nishant Katneshwarkar, representing the Maharashtra government, justified the stringent rules put in place by the state government by saying that "no traditional family would allow" its members to go to such places, emphasizing that society values determine what is obscene and not.