Restaurants and bars in Mumbai to remain open till 5 am on New Year eve: High Court

Ordinary Mumbaikars can now party harder on New Year's eve with the Bombay High Court striking down the city police's diktat for closure of eateries, bars and restaurants at 1.30 AM and extending it till 5 AM, dubbing the order as "illogical".

Mumbai Police had issued the directive imposing the deadline citing security concerns, including terror attacks, and safety of women during the revelry.

"Threat perception to the city will be there all the time. Not just on December 31," Justice Gautam Patel observed while hearing a petition of Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association (AHAR) challenging the city police's fiat that overruled a Home Department relaxation of the deadline till 5 AM.

The judge's observation was in response to Public Prosecutor D A Nalavade's argument about threat from terrorist organisations. The lawyer cited a recent report that Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal was planning nuclear bomb

attacks and escape of seven alleged terrorists from a jail in Madhya Pradesh.

The court also dismissed concerns about women's safety, saying "The Shakti Mills gangrape incident did not happen on December 31. It happened on a normal day. If proper precautions are taken, such incidents would not occur."

A 22-year-old woman photojournalist interning with a magazine was gangraped at the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in the city in August when she was out on assignment.

Petitioner's counsel Veena Thadani pointed out that the Home Department in its December 19 circular had allowed restaurants and bars to run till 5 AM on January 1.

"If the Home department under which the police comes has no problem with the celebrations going on till 5 AM then why is the police setting the deadline of 1.30 AM. This is without logic," Justice Patel said.

The court, however, said hospitality establishments will have to give an undertaking that security inside the premises would be their responsibility. It also allowed them to play indoor music till 5 AM.

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