M A I N   N E W S

No bar on Mumbai dance girls, rules SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 16
It will be business as usual for over 75,000 dance girls and women rendered jobless by the Maharashtra Government in 2005 by banning dance bars. This has become possible following today's Supreme Court judgment.

The ban which was supposed to be the "cure is worse than the disease," a Bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice SS Nijjar said in the 133-page verdict and directed the state government to take measures to "ensure the safety and improve the working conditions of the persons working as bar girls."

"In fact, a large number of imaginative alternative steps could be taken instead of completely prohibiting dancing, if the real concern the state government is the safety of women," the SC noted.

The Bombay High Court had quashed the ban order in 2006 on a plea by an association of restaurants and bars, but the state government quickly moved the SC and got the HC order stayed, pending disposal of its appeal. In its verdict, the SC upheld the HC order lifting the ban. "We are not inclined to interfere with the conclusions reached by the HC. Therefore, we find no merit in these appeals and the same are accordingly dismissed."

"It would be better to treat the cause than to blame the effect and to completely discontinue the livelihood of a large section of women, eking out an existence by dancing in bars, who will be left to the mercy of other forms of exploitation," the apex court said.

The state government had clamped the restriction by amending the Bombay Police Act in order to check prostitution rackets allegedly being run in dance bars - about 350 licensed and 2,500 unlicensed.

The affected dance girls, bars and restaurants were up in arms against the ban, contending that the amendment to the police act was unconstitutional as it had affected their fundamental right to life and earn their livelihood.





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