SC lifts Maharashtra dance bar ban, says it is unconstitutional

Dancer

Slamming the Maharashtra government for its "elitist" and "discriminatory attitude", the Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the right of women bar dancers to follow their profession and dismissed the government's appeal to ban them.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar rejected the government's justification to ban dance bars on grounds that they were obscene and acted as "pick-up" points for vulnerable girls, while allowing such performances at big hotels.

"The legislation is based on an unacceptable presumption that the so called elite... would have higher standards of decency, morality or strength of character than their counterparts, who have to content themselves with lesser facilities of inferior quality in the dance bars. Such a presumption is abhorrent to the resolve in the preamble of the constitution to secure the citizens of India," the bench said.

Backing the Bombay High Court verdict quashing the 2005 ban, the court questioned why Maharashtra does not find it to be indecent or derogatory to the dignity of women if they work as a receptionist, waitress or bar tender at such bars.

"The activities which are obscene or which are likely to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, cannot be distinguished on the basis as to whether they are performing in five-star hotels or in dance bars," the court said. "The judicial conscience of this court would not give credence to a notion that high morals and decent behaviour is the exclusive domain of the upper classes whereas vulgarity and depravity is limited to the lower classes."

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