New Delhi, July 17: The Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the right of bar dancers to pursue their profession subject to dancing bars taking licence from the state authorities.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar upheld the right of bar dancers as it rejected the Maharashtra government's plea against the Bombay High Court verdict striking down the police orders that bar dancing in hotels below three stars.
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Nijjar said: "In our opinion, in the present case, the restrictions in the nature of prohibition cannot be said to be reasonable, inasmuch as there could be several lesser alternatives available which would have been adequate to ensure safety of women than to completely prohibit dance."
"In fact, a large number of imaginative alternative steps could be taken instead of completely prohibiting dancing, if the real concern of the State is the safety of women," the judgment said.
Bar girls celebrate with sweets
Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that dance bars can be reopened in Maharashtra, which was banned dance performances in Maharashtra bars in 2005.
Bar girls celebrate with sweets
Bar girls celebrate with sweets after the Supreme Court judgement on Dance bars in Maharashtra.
"We are of the opinion that the State has failed to justify the classification between the exempted establishments and prohibited establishments on the basis of surrounding circumstances; or vulnerability," the judgment said.
"In our opinion, in the present case, the legislation is based on an unacceptable presumption that the so called elite i.e. rich and the famous would have higher standards of decency, morality or strength of character than their counter parts who have to content themselves with lesser facilities of inferior quality in the dance bars", the court said.
Chief Justice Kabir in a separate elaboration of his views said that though some of the women engaged in bar dancing may be doing so as a matter of choice, not very many women would willingly resort to bar dancing as a profession.
Taking note of the women not choosing to become bar dancer as a matter of choice, Chief Justice Kabir said, "It may be wiser for the State to look into ways and means in which reasonable restrictions may be imposed on bar dancing, but without completely prohibiting or stopping the same."
Referring to the material placed before the court in the course of the proceedings, Chief Justice Kabir said, "From the materials placed before us and the statistics shown, it is apparent that many of the bar dancers have no other option as they have no other skills, with which they could earn a living."
"It is all very well to enact laws without making them effective," Chief Justice Kabir said adding that "The State has to provide alternative means of support and shelter to persons engaged in such trades or professions, some of whom are trafficked from different parts of the country and have nowhere to go or earn a living after coming out of their unfortunate circumstances."
"A strong and effective support system may provide a solution to the problem," the Chief Justice said, while articulating his views he said the expression that "the cure is worse than the disease" comes to mind immediately.