The state cabinet on Thursday decided to amend the dance bar prohibition Act to ensure a blanket ban on all dance bars, including those in three- and five-star hotels. Earlier, when the matter had come up before the cabinet, several ministers had pointed out that the Bombay High Court and later the Supreme Court had already rejected a similar legislation and hence it would be unwise to persist with it. In any case, the issue did not merit the kind of attention that was being given to it by home minister RR Patil, some ministers felt.
However, Patil, a senior NCP leader, was adamant about reintroducing the law despite the earlier setback in the high court and the apex court, a senior Congress minister told dna on Thursday. So, to prevent a loss of face for Patil, the cabinet finally decided to put a ban covering three- and five-star hotels as well. These two categories of hotels were exempted in the earlier legislation to which the apex court had observed that the government cannot discriminate between different categories of hotels.
According to sources, the state government will make amendments to the dance bar prohibition Act – 33 (A) 2. "We will retain 33(A) sub-section 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 33(2) will be scrapped. We will table the amended bill in the legislative assembly for its nod. It will empower the government to curb dance bar activities across the state," said a senior NCP minister, requesting anonymity.
"We will challenge the new law also. We thought "acche din aagaye hain. But, today's decision is a retrogade one," said a bar owner.
"As per article 19, each person has the right to livelihood. Therefore, the state cannot ban dance bar activities. It will hamper tourism. The state economy is already dwindling. The corporate world needs some entertainment and nothing wrong in that," said a senior Congress minister.
"Patil wants to do moral policing instead of controlling actual crime. The police department had also given suggestions that it would be contempt of court if we implemented the Act. We have already lost the case in the Supreme Court. It is just a face-saving exercise for Patil ahead of the assembly polls," said another Congress minister.