RAIPUR, CHHATTISGARH

A PROJECT OF WOMEN AND LAW
ON
Views of Supreme Court on Ban of Dance Bars in Maharashtra and its Impact on
life of women

Submitted to:

Ms. Madhurima De Sarkar

Date of submission: 06/04/2017
Submitted by:
ANCHAL KUMAR MATRE
Semester X
Roll no. : 22

WOMEN AND LAW Page 1

............................................................................................................................................................................ 13 BIBLIOGRAPHY................. 15 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS WOMEN AND LAW Page 2 ................................ 11 Constructing the Sexual Subject............................................................................ 8 Social and economic aspects............................ 10 Hypocrisy & Double Standards............. TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements........................................................................... 5 Research Methodology........................11 CONCLUSION......................................................................................................................... 6 ban........................ 10 Malafide Motives............................................................... 9 The Ban’s Impact.............................................................................................................................................................. 15 Articles.......................................................................................................................................................... 15 Webliography.......................................................................................................................... 4 Objectives................................................................................................ 6 Supreme court verdict............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 5 Dance Bars................................................................................................... 3 Introduction..................................................................................................................

Madhurima De Sarkar. HNLU. Women and Law. ANCHAL KUMAR MATRE INTRODUCTION WOMEN AND LAW Page 3 . but not the least I thank the University Administration for equipping the University with such good library and I. who gave me their precious time for guidance and helped me a lot in completing my project by giving their helpful suggestion and assistance. Last. I would like to thank my friends.T. no doubt this work would not have taken this shape in correct time .First and foremost I would like to thank our course teacher Ms. facilities. for allotting me this topic to work on and whose help and assistance enabled me to move ahead with this topic. without which. I would like to thanks my seniors for their valuable support.

The statute that was struck down was an amendment to the Bombay Police Act. The Supreme Court ruling. This was also held unconstitutional by Bombay High Court on April 12. The ban came into effect on August 15. 2013. For the past several months. • It violates the fundamental freedom of the bar owners and the bar dancers to practice an occupation or profession and goes against Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution STATEMENT OF PROBLEM WOMEN AND LAW Page 4 . to a packed courtroom by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice SS Nijjar. not only came as a pleasant surprise but also offered a ray of hope for the bar dancer confined to the margins of society. The judgement striking down the dance bar ban as unconstitutional. was pronounced on July 16. mainly from the lower economic strata. lost their means of livelihood. After months of legal battle. 2005. therefore. it had seemed as if the ground under our feet was slipping away and we had only a slender hope that the judiciary would decide in our favour — given that the ban was justified as essential to ‘cleanse’ the city of sex and sleaze. 2006. passed by both the Houses of the Maharashtra State Legislature in July 2005. petitions were filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the Government’s move by three different segments — the bar owners associations. countering the hypocritical aspects of middleclass Maharashtrian morality. so as to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations.000 girls. the High Court struck down the ban on the following grounds: • The exemption [given to certain categories of hotels as well as clubs] is not concurrent with the aims and objectives of the statute and hence it is arbitrary and violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India (the clause pertaining to equality and nondiscrimination). Soon thereafter. As the state celebrated the Independence Day. an estimated 75. 1951. the State of Maharashtra and others. in the case of Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association and others Vs. the bar girls’ union and social organizations.The Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of women to earn their living by dancing in bars has come as a morale booster for many of us who have been fighting an uphill battle against extreme odds. The statute banning dance performances in bars had curiously allowed hotels with three stars or above as well as gymkhanas and clubs to hold such performances to ‘promote culture’ and ‘boost tourism’.

etc) and secondary sources (books given by different authors. internet. 2. statutes. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Nature of research work: This project “Impact of Supreme Court’s verdict on reopening of Dance Bars in Maharashtra on life of Women: A Critical Appraisal” is a “Doctrinal” work. The reason given for the reopening of Dance bar is the main highlights of this project. DANCE BARS WOMEN AND LAW Page 5 . Doctrinal research includes studying books and established literature and not actually going to the field and doing empirical research. To discuss the important issues relating to Dance Bars and ban on Dance Bars. Source of research work: The sources of this project are both primary (bare acts. journals.The project deals with the imposition of ban on Dance bars in Maharashtra and Reopening of it after Supreme Court’s verdict. OBJECTIVES 1. To perform a comprehensive study on impact of Supreme court’s verdict on reopening of dance bars in Maharashtra on life of women. etc).

in August 2005. known as bar-balas. would be shut with immediate effect. mainly in cities. subsequently many migrated to Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries and trafficking centre shifted to New Delhi. He also announced that a highpower committee of key IAS officials. when it submitted its report within three months. though officially only 307 dance bars existed. Subsequently. Dance bars were banned in the state of Maharashta. at their peak in April 2005 when it was banned. except those in Mumbai. In all they employed 150. He was replying to complaints from Vivek Patil. then Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister RR Patil announced in the Maharashtra State Assembly that dance bars in the state. 2005. Chennai and Hyderabad. would decide the fate of Mumbai's dance bars. with the passing of the Bombay Police (Amendment) Act. but later spread across the country. The Hindu reported that the number of women employed in bars in Maharashtra was around 20. He claimed that "sufficient" police staff enabled "strict enforcement of rules" in dance bars in WOMEN AND LAW Page 6 .Dance bar is a term used in India to refer to bars in which adult entertainment in the form of dances by relatively well-covered women are performed for male patrons in exchange for cash. Most of them were waitresses or singers at orchestra bars. BAN On 30 March 2005. the rest were illegal.000 bar girls. no proper rehabilitation program was initiated for the nightclub dancers. Patil also stated that the government would not issue new licences for dance bars in the state. many continued to flourish as late as 2011. and two other MLAs from the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP). Dance bars used to be present only in Maharashtra. who complained that dance bars were "corrupting the youth". and the verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2013. However. These bars in turn functioned as fronts for prostitution and human trafficking. The ban was struck down by the Bombay High Court on 12 April 2006. while other simply shifted into Mumbai's red-light districts. and after the ban was enforced. including 75.000 in September 2013. headed by the additional chief secretary. Mumbai alone had 700 dance bars. while the figures for rest of the state was 650 dance bars in total. Patil claimed that "dance and ladies' bars are wreaking havoc in rural Maharashtra" and "corrupting the moral fibre of our youth". although in a clandestine way in Mumbai and its outskirts.000 people. the government shut down dance bars.

We should not decide for them. Dutt emphasised. "We should leave it to the people whether they want to visit a bar or not. permit rooms or beer bars" across the state. The Maharashtra State Assembly adopted the Bombay Police (Amendment) Bill 2005 amending the Bombay Police Act. Dance bars in Mumbai also went on strike to show solidarity with other bars across the state. At the time of the ban. and demanding a rehabilitation package. were only licensed to operate as eating houses. The Bar Owners’ Association declared an indefinite strike across the state for all hotels with a liquor permit from April 1. 32 in Raigad district). stating that he saw "no immediate reason" to sign the ordinance. The ban was criticized by MP from Mumbai north-west Sunil Dutt who expressed concern over the future of about 75. Most of dancing bars at the time. Pune district had three licensed dance bars. Maharashtra Governor SM Krishna had sent back the ordinance to ban bars." The ban also opposed by Congress MP Govinda. and demanding that the issue be discussed in the State Assembly. on on 22 July 2005. there were an estimated 1. in the legislative assembly. Bar girls took to the streets to protest the ban shouting slogans alleging bias and discrimination.400 dance bars in the state (700 in Mumbai. which employed more than 100. and more than 10 were operating illegally when the ban was imposed.Mumbai. The state cabinet unanimously supported the home department's proposal to revoke all dance bar licenses. restaurants or to run permit rooms.000 bar girls who would be unemployed as a result of the ban. banning "holding of performance or dance of any kind" at "eating house.000 bar girls. On 23 June 2005. according to a statement made by Patil. 1951. SUPREME COURT VERDICT WOMEN AND LAW Page 7 . but were being misused. terming it a "political conspiracy against all of us". The state government banned dance bars in Mumbai on 12 April 2005. which was not possible elsewhere as police units across the state were "short-staffed".

However. Justice F I Rebello and Justice Roshan Dalvi struck down the law as it prohibited dance at a certain class of establishments. asking why they were being denied the licences even after the Supreme Court had lifted the ban. cinema theatres. The verdict was described by the media as a major embarrassment for Patil. As of 5 September 2013. women's activists and NGOs. three star and above hotels. auditoriums. who had spearheaded the ban. or any other establishment getting special permission from the state government for the purpose of tourism or cultural activities. dance bars were not allowed to re-open immediately. Bharatiya Bar Girls' Union (BBGU) and other associations of bar-owners and bar dancers. The deputy commissioner of police (headquarters-I) stated that they were awaiting "suitable guidance from WOMEN AND LAW Page 8 . The ban had been challenged by nine petitioners including the Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHAR). sport clubs or gymkhanas. and ruling that the ban was discriminatory and violated the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution by prohibiting dances in certain establishments while permitting them in some others.000 bar dancers unemployed. The Court vacated its stay order on implementation of the High Court judgement and permitted bars to reapply for their licences and reopen. AHAR stated in the court that the ban had affected about 2500 establishments in the state and left around 75. The Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court verdict on 16 July 2013. The Supreme Court admitted the state government's petition challenging High Court verdict on 10 May 2006. the Bombay High Court struck down the amendment banning dance bars terming it as "unconstitutional". RR Patil told the Maharashtra State Assembly on 13 April 2006 that the government would appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. as the state government was given eight weeks to appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court. However. while exempting drama theatres. which prompted the owners of 200 bars to send a reminder notice to the police department on 14 August 2013. Bar owners began applying to the police for the restoration of licences required to run dance bars from 20 July 2013. Dance bar owners have also threatened to file a contempt petition in the Supreme Court. at least 200 bar owners had applied for licences to operate dance bars. and also continued the stay on grant of licences permitting dance bars. Dance Bar Owners' Association (DBOA). It also ruled that the government's move failed to qualify as a "reasonable restriction" under Article 19 (6) of the Constitution and that it was in fact unreasonable.On 12 April 2006. the licences were not processed by the police.

be tarred with the same brush. location of the bar and area around it. exploiting men and siphoning money away from the latter's families. The dance bars and their supporters have countered with the demand that dances by women as performed in elite hotels. Dance bars were initially permitted to stay open till midnight. The bar should not be located in a residential area. and should be 75m away from any religious place. and gymkhanas. stated that the police had "approached the state home department for instructions on the future course of action. the government issued a resolution extending the deadline to 1:30 am. The licence fee is INR1. as of 4 September 2013. but in 2000.8 lakh (US$2. following the rape of a minor at Marine Drive.800) annually. Mumbai Police received 80 applications for dance bar licences in the city. as well as being fronts for prostitution. educational institution or other bar. public shows. THE BAN’S IMPACT WOMEN AND LAW Page 9 . having connections with criminal elements." SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ASPECTS In order to obtain a performance licence to run a dance bar. deputy commissioner of police. Some have even pointed out the racy item numbers of Bollywood films as examples of hypocrisy on the part of the state and their other opponents. especially in the state of Maharashtra. in charge of issuing performance licences. However. Dance bars serve as a meeting place for criminals. hospital. They have been charged with morally corrupting society.the state regarding the SC order" and assured that they would "process the applications expeditiously" upon receiving the instructions. Mumbai in 2005. making them a hub for intelligence collection by police. presently exempted from the government's list of targets. Dance bars have also drawn the ire of the infamous Indian moral police. Sharada Raut. a person must make an application with details including the site plan. Policemen and local thugs also make money off regular haftas from the dance bars. According to the Bombay Police Act. the bar owner should not have a criminal record. 1951. clubs. this was changed to 12:30am.

The first portrayed the bar dancers as evil and immoral. corrupting the youth and wrecking middle-class homes. On August 14. television serials. as music blared in bars packed to capacity in and around the city of Mumbai. others fell by the wayside. All these industries use the woman’s body for commercial gain. middle-class Maharashtrian sense of morality. Some could no provide medical care for their ailing parents. indecency and obscenity for different sections of society or classes of people? If an ‘item number’ in a Hindi film could be screened in public theatres. Some had to pull their children out of school. What was even worse. Some were battered and bruised by drunken husbands as they were no longer bringing WOMEN AND LAW Page 10 . The second one claimed that bars were in fact brothels. Waitresses mingle more with the customers than the dancers. disco lights were turned off and the dancers took their final bow and faded into oblivion. HYPOCRISY & DOUBLE STANDARDS While the ban adversely impacted bar owners and bar dancers from the lower economic rungs. and bar owners traffickers who sexually exploited the girls for commercial gains. why were the licenses issued to them not revoked? Despite us pointing out such contradictions in the stand adopted by the ruling party and the pro- ban lobby. Some became homeless. This premise refused to grant an agency to the women dancers. There is sexual exploitation of women in these and many other industries. Those of us who opposed the ban raised some uncomfortable questions: Could the State impose arbitrary and varying standards of vulgarity. 2005. both these populist premises appealed to the parochial. clubs and gymkhanas. the demand for a ban was framed within the language of ‘women’s liberation’ and the economic disempowerment of this vulnerable class of women came to be projected as a plank that would liberate them from sexual bondage. But no one has ever suggested that an entire industry should be shut down because there is sexual exploitation of women! Bars employ women as waitresses but the ban does not affect this category.The ban was based on two premises that were contradictory to each other. then how could an imitation of the same be termed ‘vulgar’? The bar dancers imitate what they see in Indian films. no one was willing to listen. at midnight. fashion shows and advertisements. hankering after easy money and amassing a fortune each night by goading innocent and gullible young men into sex and sleaze. And if certain bars were functioning as brothels. who are confined to the dance floor. the state exempted hotels with three or more stars. Rather unfortunately. Some left the city in search of other options.

Some relevant comments from the judgement are summarised in the accompanying box. This argument granted an agency to women dancers. we must first examine the Statement of Objects and Reasons (SOR) of the amendment. With the exit of the dancers. Few others braved the storm and worked around the ban by transforming themselves into ‘silent bars’ or ‘pick-up points’ — slang used for the sex trade industry. Groups working for prevention of HIV/AIDS sounded warning alarms about the increasing number of girls turning up for STD check-ups. A few stuck on. obscene or vulgar. Some put their preteen daughters out for sale in the flesh market. But after the ban. begging for work as waitresses in the same bars. At one level. The Court overruled each of these reasons stated by the Government on the ground that there was no rational nexus between the amendment and its aims and objectives. who came to the bars to earn ‘easy money’ and corrupt society. Left with few options. the profit margins plummeted and many bars closed down. the government tried to justify it on the ground of trafficking and argued that these women lack an agency and need state intervention to free them from the world of sexual depravity in which they were trapped. Devoid of glamour and fanfare. Refuting the argument of trafficking. women accepted the paltry sums thrown at them by customers to make ends meet. MALAFIDE MOTIVES Why was the dance bar ban struck down? To understand this. the Court commented: WOMEN AND LAW Page 11 . the state and the pro-ban lobby advanced an argument that the dancers were evil women. • There are several complaints regarding the manner in which the dance performances are held.in money. • The performances lead to exploitation of women. And some committed suicide. permit rooms and beer bars are indecent. CONSTRUCTING THE SEXUAL SUBJECT A glaring discrepancy in the arguments put forward by the state was in the realm of the agency of women. • The Government believes that dance performances in an indecent manner is derogatory to the dignity of women and is likely to deprave. corrupt or injure public morality or morals. the dance bar industry came to a grinding halt. The SOR claimed the following: • Dance performances in eating houses.

Only now and then would it spill over. as the State prepares to file its appeal in the Supreme Court. During the entire campaign. we would be content if we are able to safeguard the advantages we gained in the Bombay High Court. CONCLUSION ‘The dancing girls will be back in the beer bars of Mumbai’. the anti-ban lobby also framed its arguments within this accepted ‘victim’ mould. A Constitutional Court. has to look beyond narrow confines to ensure protection of those rights. oozing out female erotica and enticing their patrons to part with a generous tip. The sexual erotic inherent in dancing had to be carefully crafted and located within ‘Indian traditions’ and the accepted norm of ‘Bollywood gyrations’ and not slip beyond into sexual advances. The emphasis had to be for a right to livelihood only through dancing and not beyond. though more as a defiant statement. There was no mention of trafficking. the State had to place reliable material which was available when the amending Act was enacted or even thereafter to justify it.“No material has been brought on record from those cases that the women working in the bars were forced or lured into working in the bars. But for now. We could not enter the other world in which they are constantly negotiating their sexuality. we must admit that this was only a partial projection. poverty. it was important for the anti ban lobby to make a clear distinction between the dancer/entertainer and the street walker and base the arguments squarely upon the fundamental right to dancing. In answer to the call attention motion. the world of the bar dancer beyond these confines lay hidden from feminist activists who were campaigning for their cause. The Statement of Objects and Reasons does not so indicate this… To support the charge of trafficking in order to prohibit or restrict the exercise of a fundamental right. an admission was made by the Home Minister and it is also stated in the Statement of Objects and Reasons that young girls were going to the dance bars because of the easy money they earned and that resulted also in immoral activities. pain and police harassment. aided by the best legal minds in the country to defend its stand on sexual morality. Did the problem lie with our ideas and the picture that we wanted to paint for them? Perhaps yes. with the Supreme Court upholding Bombay high court's verdict to junk Maharashtra government's decision to banish them from the WOMEN AND LAW Page 12 . the dizzy heights they scale while they dance draped in gorgeous chiffons studded with sequins. Further. in considering an act directly affecting the fundamental rights of citizens.” Rather ironically. an incomplete picture. So while we were exposed to one aspect of their lives with its many problems — of parenting.

no showering of money by customers on dancers and a register maintaining the name of each dance girl engaged at the bar. "The restrictions in the nature of prohibition cannot be said to be reasonable." Nijjar said." the CJI said. The committee had also suggested keeping customers in the pubs and bars away from the dance girls by erecting railings around the dance floor which should be a minimum of 10x12 feet accommodating a maximum eight dancers. Rejecting the state government's appeal against the 2006 judgment of the high court.city's famous night life. "The state has to provide alternative means of support and shelter to persons engaged in such trades or professions. Though the state government can put curbs on dance bars to prevent obscenity if it so wishes. In fact. the order is seen as a setback to Maharashtra home minister R R Patil. The court said the state promulgated the 2005 ban on dance girls despite the fact that no authority was asked to take steps to implement the suggestions of the committee and urged the WOMEN AND LAW Page 13 . which reflected lack of thinking to search for viable alternatives. if the real concern of the state is the safety of women. inasmuch as there could be several lesser alternatives available which would have been adequate to ensure safety of women than to completely prohibit dance. A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar said the state government's 2005 decision to amend the Bombay Police Act and impose a complete ban girls dancing in bars in the name of ensuring safety of women and curbing obscenity was an overreaction. while suggested putting in place a "strong and effective support system" for them. authoring the main judgment. the court said instead of a complete ban on dance girls in pubs and bars. the state could consider the alternative suggestions made by a state-appointed committee like banning dance girls from exposing body or wearing tight and provocative clothes during performances. some of whom are trafficked from different parts of the country and have nowhere to go or earn a living after coming out of their unfortunate circumstances. and resulted in large-scale joblessness among women. Kabir said the expression "the cure is worse than the disease" came to mind immediately as many dance girls who lost their livelihood because of the complete ban on dance bars had been forced into prostitution. Agreeing with him. a large number of imaginative alternative steps could be taken instead of completely prohibiting dancing. and will be cheered by many who saw the ban as overzealous moral policing. who pursued the ban virtually as a personal mission.

National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamata Sharma said that the state government needs to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed for strict surveillance in the bars to check the crime. which has resulted in loss of employment for about 75." Kabir said.government that "it would be more appropriate to bring about measures which would ensure the safety and improve the working conditions of the persons working as bar girls". CCTV’s are installed so that girls aren’t ill- treated by customers.000 women employed in the dance bars in various capacities. "The discontinuance of bar dancing in establishments below the rank of three star establishments has led to the closure of a large number of establishments. “There have to be certain guidelines in place for bar girls to work.” WOMEN AND LAW Page 14 . The government should step in and ensure that surveillance cameras. Hours after the Supreme Court ruled that dance bars can re-open in Mumbai. I also think that government control is necessary as at times there are reports of prostitution.

http://www.manushi-india. http://www.indiatogether.com/indiarealtime/2013/07/16/mumbai-dance-bars-get- green-light/ WOMEN AND LAW Page 15 . Fp Staff.nic. http://cscs.firstpost.pdf 14.htm 13. Losangelesherald.2008-08- 19. Sapa.co.html 8.losangelesherald. Mumbai dance bars to reopen.in/dataarchive/textfiles/textfile.com/india/supreme-court-overturns-maharashtra-ban- mumbai-dance-bars-to-reopen-958313.org/doc/1434517/ 10. 2017) 4.res. http://www. 2. DNA Correspondent. http://www.html 5.org/pdfs_issues/PDF%20Files%20154/pg %2020-24.intoday.org/2006/jul/soc-dancebar. Do’s and don’ts for dance bars in Mumbai. Los Angeles Herald.aspx?filename=40565 12.Afp.wn. (on March 16. http://www. http://article. http://www.yahoo. India’s top Court allows Mumbai dance bars to reopen.wsj.kemmannu.html 2. Flavia Agnes.com) 5.com/supreme-court-gives-green-signal-reopen-dance- bars-082820684.indiankanoon.com/index.news. http://www. 2017) 3. Supreme Court overturns Maharashtra ban. 2017) Webliography 1.com/view/2013/07/16/Supreme_Court_allows_Maharashtra_d ance_bars_to_reopen/#/related_news 4. 2017 at www. (on March 16. http://www. BIBLIOGRAPHY Articles 1.com/index.php?action=topstory&type=4507 9.vakilno1. http://blogs. (on March 17.timeslive. http://indiatoday.php/sid/215951330/scat/3a8a80d6f70 5f8cc/ht/New-life-breathed-into-Mumbai-dance-halls 6.in/video/maharashtra-rr-patil-supreme-court-dance- bars-bar-dancers/1/291648. (on March 20. The Right to Dance: Mumbai High Court Judgement Strikes the Right Note.in/supremecourt/imgs1.za/lifestyle/2013/07/16/india-s-top-court-allows- mumbai-dance-bars-to-reopen 3. http://judis.com/legal-news/two-sc-judgments-favouring-private- parties-just-before-cji-retirement.9478996597/file 11. New life breathed into Mumbai dance halls. http://in.html 7.

com/article/MAH-MUM-dance-bar-can-be-reopened- in-mumbai-supreme-court-tells-4321586-NOR. http://daily.bhaskar.html WOMEN AND LAW Page 16 . 15.

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