24-hr restaurants: HC queries govt about women's safety aspects

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Mumbai, Mar 6: Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra government whether it has taken a decision to allow restaurants and pubs in the city to remain open 24 hours a day and, if such a policy had been framed, whether it was done taking into consideration the aspect of women's safety.

The query was raised by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka yesterday while hearing a PIL on women's safety.

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Hearing the PIL, high court had earlier appointed Justice CS Dharmadhikari Committee to suggest ways to curb crimes against women. The committee had, among other things, recommended a ban on dance bars which remained open till late in the night.

During the hearing yesterday, the bench asked the state government about media reports that it had proposed to take a policy decision to allow restaurants and bars remain open all 24 hours and that the city police had agreed to such a proposal.

The judges said they wanted to know the government's policy on this and, accordingly, would recommend to the Dharmadhikari Committee to look into aspects of women's safety in the light of the proposed policy to allow bars and restaurants to remain open in the night.

There are about 12,000 food-serving restaurants and about 2,000 liquor serving pubs and bars in the city, according to Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR).

The Dharmadhikari Committee, while recommending a complete ban on dance bars, had noted that there was a drop in cases of atrocities against women when the state had banned it in the past.

It had also suggested that vulgar activities on Facebook and other social networking sites, mobile phones and computers should be monitored and tackled urgently.

Such sites fuel violent tendencies among youths and as such there is an increase in cases of crimes against women, the committee said.

The Dharmadhikari Committee, set up by the government in 2010, comprises senior women political leaders, social activists and bureaucrats.

The court is hearing a suo motu public interest litigation based on newspaper reports and a PIL filed by the NGO 'Help Mumbai Foundation' on women's safety.

PTI

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