Why not ban only obscene dance: SC

Last Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 20:57

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the
Maharashtra government to examine whether it can "modify"
certain provisions of the Bombay Police Act to ban only
"obscene and objectionable" form of dance in bars, hotels and
restaurants.

"We do not want them (dancers) to go from the bars and
restaurants to the streets," a three-judge bench of Altamas
Kabir, SS Nijjar and Gyan Sudha Mishra observed, while
granting the state two weeks time to examine the idea.
The apex court felt that dance by itself cannot be
considered as obscene, as banning the activity may render
thousands of dancers jobless, thus pushing them to the
streets.

"We have children dancing. Couples dancing at different
places. There are dance floors. That by itself does not make
it obscene or objectionable," the bench remarked, asking ex-
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium appearing for the state to
examine whether sections 33, 34 of the Bombay Police Act could
be modified to ban only obscene and objectionable dance forms.

The Bombay High Court had in 2006 quashed the ban imposed
by the Mumbai police under the impugned provisions of the Act
on dance shows in bars and restaurants on the ground that they
were obscene, titillating and many of the girls were indulging
in prostitution.

The apex court had in 2006, admitted the state
government`s appeal against the high court verdict striking
down the legislation as being "unconstitutional".

During today`s brief arguments, Subramanium said the ban
was imposed to "prevent trafficking and exploitation" of
women. He however, offered the government`s willingness to
discuss the issue with the various stake holders in the
dispute for an amicable solution.

Senior counsel Anand Grover, on behalf of organisations
espousing the cause of the dancers, said the matter should be
disposed off early as it involved the livelihood of over
70,000 dancers.

He denied the allegations that the dancers were engaged
in obscene or objectionable dances. On the contrary he said,
what they were doing was just a replica of the dance being
performed in Hollywood and Bollywood movies.
On April 12, the high court had quashed an amendment to
the Bombay Police Act that banned dance bars as
"unconstitutional" as it discriminated between dance
performances in beer-bars and ordinary eateries, which were
banned, and those in theatres, auditoriums and three star and
above hotels which were exempted.

According to the Maharashtra government, the legislation
banning dance performances in beer bars was not an overnight
decision, but a conscious move, following several complaints
that dance bars and certain eateries were operating as
prostitution rackets posing law and order problems.

The aggrieved bar and restaurant owners have claimed that
after the ban was imposed, 70,000 women have been left
jobless.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 20:57

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