Maharashtra Cabinet approves amendment to Dance Bar Prohibition Act

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The Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft bill to amend the Dance Bar Prohibition Act to remove a 'legal lacuna' on the ground of which the Supreme Court had struck down its 2005 order to ban dance bars.

The move comes as a blow to thousands of bar girls and others associated with such establishments who had hoped to regain their livelihood following the Supreme Court order.

According to the amendment, dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels will also be prohibited, government sources said.

The decision was taken on a proposal of state's home department to amend sections 31 and 32 of the Act.

In a controversial move in 2005, dance performances in bars of the state were banned, but three-star and five-star hotels were kept out of the purview of the Act.

The government could not defend this discrimination when the ban was challenged before the Supreme Court which, in July last year, upheld a Bombay High Court verdict quashing the state government's order, ruling that the ban was discriminatory and violated the Constitutional right to earn a living.

The apex court had ruled that bar dancers could resume working after bars got back their licences for performances.

Last week, the Cabinet had authorised ministers in-charge of Excise, Home and Parliamentary Affairs departments to review the Act and consult group leaders in the state legislature on the proposal to amend the Act and remove the lacuna.

Accordingly, the decision was taken to amend the Act and ban dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels as well. The government is likely to table the Amendment Bill in the ongoing session of the legislature.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Patil said the ban on dance bars will stay and the Bill would be brought in the current session itself. The ongoing monsoon session, which ends on Saturday, is the last of the 12th Vidhan Sabha as the state will go to polls in October. 

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