Case registered against Kochi bar for deploying Russian women bartenders at launch party

Employing women as bartenders is a violation of the Kerala Foreign Liquor Rules and Abkari Act, the excise officials said, adding they also found some irregularities in the bar's stock register

Published: 15th March 2022 12:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th March 2022 06:58 PM   |  A+A-

wine, alcohol, liquor

Image used for representational purpose. (File photo)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: At a time when the Kerala government plans to allow pubs in the state to boost the tourism sector, its excise department on Tuesday registered a case against the manager of a bar hotel in Kochi after it deputed three Russian women as
bartenders during its launch party on Friday. Employing women as bartenders is a violation of the Kerala Foreign Liquor Rules and Abkari Act, the excise officials said, adding they also found some irregularities in the bar's stock register.

The bar in question is 'Dance Pub' at the Harbor View Hotel located near the Cochin Shipyard in Kochi. And the incident happened during its inaugural function after the bar was renovated under the name 'Fly High', which was billed as 'Kerala's
first pub' in social media campaigns.

"Employing women at bars is a violation of the rules. Apart from this, we have also found some irregularities in the stock register. The penalties for these two violations are Rs 25,000 each," said Ernakulam Excise Deputy Commissioner P V
Aliyas. He clarified that the department has not suspended the licence of the bar.

Ram Nair, business partner of Fly High bar, said that the company is into the bar and pub business in Pune and recently moved to Kochi. "After the Kerala government claimed to promote pubs for supporting the tourism sector, we started a modern bar attached to Hotel Harbour View next to Cochin Shipyard. For the launch event, we hired three Russian women bartenders. Popular dancers and DJs also performed as part of the launch party on March 11 (Friday). The entry was limited to select invitees and we wound up the programmes and the bar by 11 pm as per the rules here. The women bartenders returned after the launch event,"
he said.

However, trouble started after the excise officials carried out an inspection at the bar on Monday night. While they found irregularities on the stock register on Monday, the case for employing women as bartenders was registered based on Friday's video that circulated on social media.

As per the amendment of the Foreign Liquor Rules notified as SRO No. 959/2013 dated 9/12/2013, a new rule as Rule 27A is incorporated prohibiting women from being employed "in any capacity for serving liquor on the licensed premises". In
terms of the same notification, in Form FL-3 under the heading "Conditions", a new condition has been incorporated as condition No. 9A which also contains the same prohibition for engaging women in the bars, the excise officials said. "We would be submitting a report to the excise commissioner who would decide on further action to be taken. It is up to the discretion of the Excise Commissioner to suspend the bar licence," Aliyas said.

However, Ram claimed that women are working at bars in luxury hotels in Kochi and in other cities in the state. "There is also a Kerala High Court verdict in which two women bartenders in Thiruvananthapuram were allowed to continue their work in 2013. There are a number of women doing bartending courses in colleges operating in Kerala. The government must reconsider such archaic laws," he said.

The excise department said the 2013 Kerala High Court verdict was specific to two women workers who were about to lose their job at a bar in Thiruvananthapuram after the new rule was introduced in 2013. "The exemption granted by the High Court to a hotel in Thiruvananthapuram did not apply to all bars in the state," the officials said.

Kerala Travel Mart secretary Jose Pradeep said that there was nothing wrong with women working at bars and pubs. "There must be changes introduced to promote the tourism sector. There are many bars outside Kerala where women are engaged in
bartending. Only their safety and security have to be taken care of. There is no doubt that we need a robust nightlife to promote Kerala as a tourism destination," he said.


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