Home department, headed by RR Patil, is working overtime to issue a fresh ordinance that will ensure that dance bars are not able to open their doors, despite SC lifting a ban on them.
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The home department, headed by NCP man R R Patil, is grinding away to forge a fresh order re-imposing the ban on the bars. “We will have to do something urgently as the SC judgment will be three months old on October 16, and the people concerned are eagerly awaiting the government’s response,” said a senior government functionary.
Over half a dozen high-level meetings have already taken place, following legal opinion from state advocate general Darius Khambata.
Incidentally, though, the fate of the ordinance being fashioned in the home ministry’s furnace is tied to a nod from the revenue ministry, which collects entertainment duty from bars. Any decision striking down the bars will choke off a revenue line for the state, but the home department — nervy as it is since revenue top brass is yet to offer its comments on the matter — will forge on anyway.
Since Home Minister Patil is vehemently opposed to the bars on moral and social grounds — a posture backed by the state cabinet, there is no possibility of reopening of dance bars, the official said, but added a reference to a legal provision made by the revenue department.
According to the provision in question, dance bars within BMC limits have to shell out Rs 30,000 annually in taxes under the Bombay Entertainment Duty Act, while bars outside city limits must pay Rs 25,000.
Before a fresh ordinance overruling the SC verdict can be issued, the revenue department’s levy on bars must be scrapped. “It’s the only legislation where dance bars find a specific mention and linked to an official fee. Nowhere else does the definition of dance bar exists,” said another government official.
“The home ministry wants to and will make a watertight case, taking into consideration the views expressed against reopening of the bars during the monsoon session of the state legislature, soon after the July 16 verdict,” said the official.