NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today directed Maharashtra to apprise it about the status of applications for licences to open dance bars in the state and sought its reply on plea by bar girls challenging some of the provisions of a new law regulating the functioning of these niteries.
The top court said it will hear the matter in detail and listed it for final hearing.
A bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that the state government should file an affidavit on the plea of bar girls and the status of applications for opening of new dance bars.
"The matter will be listed after six weeks on non-miscellaneous day for final disposal. The state shall file the counter affidavit to the application," the bench said.
At the outset, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan appearing for bar girls said that this is a case where the girls want to perform in bars but the state of Maharashtra does not want them to do so.
The bench said there are several orders passed by the court in which the issues has been decided but it would look into the matter after the state government files its response to the applications.
On January 11, last year, the apex court had directed Maharashtra to expeditiously decide on 69 pending applications for licences to open dance bars under the old rules and the directions issued by the court from time to time.
The court had asked the authority to keep in mind the order of November 24, 2016, in which it had asked the applicants, who have not been granted licence, to submit their applications to the authority to get the licence, and said that licences should be given to them on grounds of parity with those who have been already given.
Maharashtra government, in an affidavit filed before the court, had earlier defended the operation of a new law meant to regulate licensing and functioning of dance bars in the state.
The new law, Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016 has been challenged by hotel and restaurant owners before the apex court.
The state government in its reply had said, "It was observed that such dances were derogatory to the dignity of women and were likely to deprave, corrupt or injure public morality.
"It was also brought to the notice of the state government that the places where such dances were staged were used as places for immoral activities and also as a place for solicitation for the purpose of prostitution".
The state said that prevention of obscenity in public places is a part of public policy in India and was reflected in the provision of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act, 2016 gives effect to such Public Policy," it said.