Supreme Court notice to Maharashtra on bar dancers challenging state regulations

Saying the new Act "stigmatised their work", the Bharatiya Bargirls Union has termed it arbitrary and violative of their right to earn a livelihood through legitimate means.

The 'Bharatiya Bargirls Union', an association of women dancers, waitresses, singers and other performers working in bars and hotels in Maharashtra, has challenged the constitutional validity of a 2016 state law putting conditions on dance performances.

Saying the new Act "stigmatised their work", the Bharatiya Bargirls Union has termed it arbitrary and violative of their right to earn a livelihood through legitimate means. It alleged that the term "obscene dance" in the act has been deliberately kept vague to allow police to harass women performers.

The new law unreasonably interferes with free choice of expression through dramatic performances and the right of women to practise the occupation of self-expression through such dramatic performances, the plea said.

IHRA PETITION CHALLENGED PROHIBITION OF OBSCENE DANCE

Another petition was filed by the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA), which has challenged the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act, 2016, and the rules framed under it.

The 2016 law for regulating dance bars came after the apex court on July 16, 2013 had struck down the restrictions imposed by the state police on dance performances of any type in an eating house, permit room or beer bar.

On September 21 last year, the Supreme Court had directed dance bars in Maharashtra would continue to operate under the old terms that permitted serving of liquor, and the CCTV cameras kept only at the entrance.

The court did not put on hold the new rules that require installation of CCTV cameras in the dance bar area, limit the timing of the dances from 6 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., and prohibit serving of liquor in the bar room where dances are staged.

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