It was party time for Mumbaikars as the Bombay high court extended the deadline for New Year celebrations up to 5am. For the city police, who wanted restaurants and hotels to shut shop by 1.30am, it meant last-minute changes in their security plans.
While welcoming the court order, city police chief Dr Satyapal Singh maintained that the threat to Mumbai was “real”. “We welcome the high court order and have instructed our men that if permission is sought by licence-holders to let the establishments run till 5am, it should be granted,” said Dr Singh.
An umbrella body of restaurants had gone to court over the police’s decision. The court said that in case of an eventuality in and around any eatery, the licence holder and the umbrella body would be responsible.
Explaining the rationale behind his decision, Dr Singh said, “Mumbai always faces a terror threat, and this risk increases during celebrations. Besides, after consuming liquor, people tend to indulge in drunken driving and also the safety of women is another issue,” said Singh.
‘Safest city for women’
State minister for home RR Patil said that the police deadline could be due to the law and order situation. “The government issues an order to extend the deadline by 5am and clearly says that division chiefs (like police commissioners) have the right to deny the extension,” said Patil.
He, however, maintained that Mumbai is the “safest city for women in the country”. The home minister said adequate police force would be deployed in places where women would be present in large numbers.
‘Cheers’ at wine shops
Meanwhile, the change in celebration timings had wine shop owners in high spirits. “Wine shops had a windfall due to the police circular,” said Randeep Singh of Shah & Co. Wines, adding that it was a disadvantage to hoteliers, who got relief on Tuesday.
With cops out on the streets to check drunken driving, it was a good time for cabbies. Prasenjeet Bagchi of Tab Cabs, said, “Demand for our fleet cabs is is very high as people do not want to ruin their New Year by drinking and driving. We asked every driver to be on duty between 8pm and 4am.”