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BAR DANCER, HARASSMENT AND INDIAN LAWS

Author: Saloni Singh, III year of B.Com.,LL.B.(Hons.) from University of petroleum and energy studies

Co-author: Vaibhav singh Chauhan, V year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from University of petroleum and energy studies


Introduction

One of our society's major social stumbling blocks is sexual harassment. As a result, difficulties such as job loss, loss of dignity, social standing, and, in extreme cases, death arise. Sexual harassment is described as an undesirable sexual advance or sexually motivated verbal or physical action that has the intention or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or producing an intimidating, hateful, offensive, or unpleasant working environment. The Supreme Court has ruled to outlaw dance bars. To comprehend this, we must first define dancing bars. Dancers at a dance bar are women who do dances for the enjoyment of males in exchange for payment, which the female gets. In most societies, this is considered immoral. Initially, bar dancers were only found in Maharashtra, but they quickly expanded throughout the country. Previously, it was regarded as popular culture.


Historical background

Since the British era, bar dance has been practised in India. In India, the habit of dancing and drinking in pubs was established by Britishers. The first bar dance was created in Kharagpur, Maharashtra, in 1980, and it eventually expanded throughout India.


Comparative study of various countries

Japan: - when nightclubs grow into hotbeds, the Japanese government imposes specific restrictions on bar dancers. (News, & News, 2021)After this administration imposes certain limitations on lounges but does not outright prohibit them.


Afghanistan: - there are no limitations on bar clubs in Afghanistan. People can go to a dance club late at night without restriction.


Sweden: - nightclubs are entirely prohibited. Mandatory clubs require a license for clients to be allowed to dance and drink. No club in Sweden runs without permission.


Condition of Maharashtra

On August 5, 2005, the Maharashtra government issued an order prohibiting the operation of all dance bars in the state. (Staff, S., 2021) This directive resulted in the layoff of roughly 70,000 bar ladies and the closure of around 700 dance clubs in Maharashtra. This state government decision was challenged in the Bombay high court because it breaches article 14, article 19 (1) (g), and article 21, which are the rights to equality, the freedom to pursue any profession, and the right to life and personal liberty. The Bombay high court rejected the state government ruling because it violated articles 14 and 19 (1) (g). The Supreme Court also found that the prohibition is unconstitutional since it infringes on citizens' fundamental rights.


A new law passed by the Maharashtra government

  • Two a two-judge panel of justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.

As dancing bars became more prevalent, the Maharashtra government modified section 33 of the Maharashtra police act to prohibit this immoral activity and placed a blanket ban on dance bars. The dance bars rules law of 2014 imposes severe fines and punishment on dance bar owners and patrons. This 2014 bill also barred the selling of booze after 11:30 p.m.


The Supreme Court (SC) has overturned some of Maharashtra's restrictive limitations on bar dancing but has failed to follow its constitutional argument to its logical conclusion. As previously said, the ruling gives a reprieve, but it also creates several loopholes for continuing abuse by the police and the government. It also fails to address two of the most pressing problems raised by the Bharatiya Bar Girls Union.


Unethical and immoral practice

In India, bar dancing is considered unprofessional and immoral. The government and different courts are working to outlaw this bad behaviour, which degrades women's dignity and deteriorates public morals. (The Indian Express,2021)Many public interest litigations (PIL) have been launched about this order dancing bars rules bill 2014 because it breaches fundamental rights granted by the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court instructed states not to prohibit dance clubs but rather enact new legislation that imposed specific limitations and harsh penalties on bar dancers.


The Supreme Court also provides specific guidelines in this regard, which are as follows:

  1. These dance clubs shall be placed at least a few kilometres away from religious, residential, and educational institutions.

  2. CCTV cameras should be put in every bar to monitor the establishment's operation and the payment of money and tips to the dancers.

The virginity of women was highly valued in India. The majority of the populace determines a person's status based on their occupation. According to the most recent study in India, around 80,000 women earn their living as bar dancers. (The Hindu, 2021) Some women were compelled by males to work in professions such as bar dancers against their choice. This practice is deemed unethical since it profoundly deteriorates women's character and promotes obscene dances and obscene behaviours in society.


Negative consequences of bar dancing

  1. Economic benefits to large- scale business owners - large-scale business owners, such as restaurant owners, profit and gain significantly from bar dance performances.

  2. Negative impact on youth - many young people are hooked to bar dancers, which ruins their character and hurts their character and conduct.

  3. Notification from the Maharashtra ministry:- encourage obscene act dance bar dancers to promote indecent acts and nasty dance in public places, which deteriorates people's character and leads to addiction to harmful habits.

  4. Harms women's dignity and makes them feel inferior in society - bar dancing harms women's elegance and makes them feel inadequate in society.

  5. Women are socially harassed in public - women who engage in bar dancing are socially harassed in public because they are given negative comments and signals.


Landmarks cases

  1. Indian hotel and restaurant association v/s state of Maharashtra

The sentimentality legality of the dance bar regulation bill 2014 was questioned in this instance. The government attempted to prohibit public bar dancing with this bill. The Supreme Court directs the state government by establishing specific terms and conditions and license requirements and imposing penalties and punishment for violations of the terms and conditions.


Following this decision, the Maharashtra government prohibited obscene dancing and obscene acts in hotels, restaurants, barrooms, and the preservation of women's dignity act of 2016. This statute states that - dance areas should be segregated from liquor stores, or liquor stores should be 1 kilometre away from religious, residential, and educational institutions. - By 11:30 p.m., all bars, dancing establishments and liquor stores must be closed

  1. The Supreme Court also outlawed throwing money or any precious object at the dancers.

  2. To assist dancers financially, the Supreme Court ruled that there should be no monthly contracts and that dancers should be paid based on their performance, with the money put straight into their bank account.


Hyderabad famous case (A bar dancer was stripped because she refused sexual favours.) Four other female dancers and a guy reportedly undressed and destroyed a female dancer at a Begumpet nightclub. The four ladies were apprehended by Panjagutta police, but one guy involved in the crime remains at large. According to police, they acted on a complaint from the lady dancer, who said that the bar's management was harassing her to sexually amuse clients. A woman dancer was accused and destroyed by a man seeking sexual favour with her and four other female dancers. Police apprehended four ladies and one male. The defendants were charged under Indian penal code sections 354 (assault on women), 509 (insult to women's modesty), and 34. (Common intention of several accused)


Sexual harassment of women at the workplace

Workplace harassment is defined as demeaning or threatening behaviour directed towards a single employee or a group of employees. Workplace harassment has recently piqued the interest of experts and academics since it is quickly becoming one of the most delicate areas of successful workplace management, as aggressive behaviour at work is a significant source of work stress.


Vishaka Guidelines

Regardless of how sophisticated things are in today's world, specific issues are still forbidden to discuss. However, India has been confronted with similar concerns and has been orchestrated by the courts and the government, identifying it as a significant infringement of women's rights since the Vishakha case in 1997. It became a historic decision, directing the Union of India to establish a relevant law to fight workplace sexual harassment. Despite this, it took 16 long years to draught the POSH Act, 2013. The POSH Act defines "sexual harassment" by the Supreme Court's definition in the Vishaka Judgment.


Vishaka's decision sparked public outrage, prompting them to seek an Act to address the issue. Nonetheless, in 1999, a decision called Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K Chopra broadened the concept of sexual harassment by holding that physical contact isn't required to commit sexual harassment. (Legalserviceindia.com,2021) It broadened the term to include the most significant possible likelihood of interaction. Employee suicides have occurred as a result of workplace harassment. The decision of High Court in Praveen Pradhan v. State of Uttaranchal, 2012 and others, addressing the case of an engineer's suicide allegedly committed due to harassment by his superiors and colleagues, during which Servesh Kumar Gupta, J., determined that "under the pretext of administrative control and discipline, a superior. He may be free to take administrative disciplinary action by the regulations, but he cannot be allowed to enjoy the liberty, full of ego, to humiliate a subordinate horrifyingly." Viewing the decisions of several State Courts helps us understand the conditions of working women and the roadblocks they confront.


In this decision, the Supreme Court established standards for preventing sexual harassment of women at work.

The following actions constitute harassment:

  • Preference for women in the workplace

  • Therapy of harmful treatment

  • Discuss potential career opportunities.

  • Interference with any job.

Public nuisance

It is a nuisance that causes general annoyance to the general public and significantly impacts the general public. In general, public disturbance and irritation are caused by bar dancing. The punishment for public disturbance is outlined in section 290 of the Indian penal code. A person who causes a general disruption must be fined, increasing to two hundred rupees. A magistrate has the authority to prohibit a public nuisance act. Obscene acts and songs are promoted by bar dancing. Improper actions and songs are defined in section 294 of the Indian penal code. Whoever does malicious activities in public or sings or utters obscene songs or phrases will be punished by imprisonment for three months, a fine, or both.

Sexual harassment involves

  • Physical interaction with any woman.

  • Making sexual approaches toward women.

  • Request for a sexual favour.

  • Displaying photography to any female.

  • Any sexually-oriented physical, verbal, or nonverbal behaviour with any woman.

This act covers the following persons:

  • Women are employed on a permanent, temporary, or daily salary basis.

  • Women who are hired through an agent or on a contract basis.

  • The term of employment might be assumed or stated.

  • Women join the workforce voluntarily and without coercion.

  • This statute applies to both the private and public sectors.


Conclusion

Though bar dancing is considered unethical in India, numerous efforts are undertaken to end this evil habit. (Preserving Your Articles for Eternity, 2021) As we all know, prohibiting this practise is illegal since it infringes the dancers' fundamental rights (article 14, article 19, including article 21 of the Indian constitution). Nonetheless, the Supreme Court and high courts set several limits to keep this profession healthy and lawful. Various Supreme Court and high court rulings will, over time, legitimize this profession and remove unethical activity by applying various fines and punishments.


Suggestions

In India, the custom of bar dance has persisted for decades. While several state governments are working to stop this practice, prohibiting it would violate people's constitutional, legal, and fundamental rights. (Economic and Political Weekly, 2021) As a result, the government should create an appropriate code to recognise this practice as a legal profession. A competent code will lay out the proper method for controlling this profession and apply appropriate fines and penalties if any broken laws. As a result, act codification is required.


References

News, C. and News, m., 2021. Maharashtra government firm on dance bar ban despite SC order | Mumbai News - Times of India. [online] The Times of India. Available at: < https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/maharashtra-government-firm-on-dance-bar-ban-despite-sc-order/articleshow/67596041.cms> [Accessed 3 September 2021].

Staff, S., 2021. Reading list: Six articles on Maharashtra’s dance bar ban and its impact on dancers, business owners. [online] Scroll.in. Available at: < https://scroll.in/article/909842/reading-list-six-articles-on-maharashtras-dance-bar-ban-and-its-impact-on-dancers-business-owners> [Accessed 3 September 2021].

The Indian Express. 2021. SC relaxes law on Maharashtra dance bars: All your questions answered. [online] Available at: < https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sc-relaxes-law-on-maharashtra-dance-bars-timeline-of-events-5542722/> [Accessed 3 September 2021].

The Hindu. 2021. SC modifies law imposing restrictions on dance bars in Maharashtra. [online] Available at: < https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/sc-modifies-law-imposing-restrictions-on-dance-bars-in-maharashtra/article26012239.ece> [Accessed 3 September 2021].

PreserveArticles.com: Preserving Your Articles for Eternity. 2021. Bar Dancing, Morality and Fundamental Rights – India – An Overview – Research Paper. [online] Available at: < https://www.preservearticles.com/articles/bar-dancing-morality-and-fundamental-rights-india-an-overview/27928> [Accessed 3 September 2021].

Economic and Political Weekly. 2021. Caste and the Bar Dancer. [online] Available at: < https://www.epw.in/journal/2013/48/discussion/caste-and-bar-dancer.html> [Accessed 3 September 2021].

Legalserviceindia.com. 2021. Case Analysis- Vishaka and others v/s State of Rajasthan. [online] Available at: < https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-374-case-analysis-vishaka-and-others-v-s-state-of-rajasthan.html > [Accessed 3 September 2021].