Indian bar girls perform at a dance bar in Bombay.
No CCTV cameras in performance area of dance bars in Maharashtra, says Supreme Court. Picture: Bar girls perform at a dance bar in Bombay May 5, 2005. [Representational Image]Reuters

The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed Maharashtra government's order banning dance bars in the state, thus paving way for the business to flourish again after seven long years.

The apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar on Tuesday upheld the verdict of the Bombay High Court quashing the order of the state government to ban dance bars in the state. It ruled that such bars can be re-opened in the state after obtaining licenses from the government.

The Maharashtra government in 2005 had banned dance bars in the state by amending the Bombay Police Act, arguing that they corrupt youngsters and that prostitution rackets were functioning through such places. They also contended that there were about 2,500 unlicenced bars in the state.

The state government approached the SC after the Bombay High Court ruled in 2006 that banning the business violates the constitutional right of bar dancers to earn a living. However, the bars have remained closed all these years after the apex court ruled that they could be re-opened only after it comes up with the final verdict.

The order of state government to ban dance bars triggered protests from various organisations representing dance bars, bar girls and restaurants, who said that performing dance for public amusement is legal. The organisations claimed that over 70,000 women were engaged in dance bars and 72 percent of them were married and supported their families.

Women activists also slammed the government's move, describing it as 'sexist' and argued that it was unfair to deprive women of earning a living without being given an alternative employment to support their families.

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