25/04/2016 6:50 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Dance Bar Row: Better To Dance Than Beg On Streets, Says Supreme Court

MUMBAI, INDIA: In this picture taken late 06 May 2005, An Indian bar dancer dances with a garland of currency notes offered by a customer during a performance at a dance-bar in Mumbai. The western Indian state of Maharashtra has decided to shut down 'dance bars' or drinking houses featuring scantily-clad dancers in the state capital which had escaped a state-wide crackdown last month. Some 1,500 dance bars operate in Maharashtra employing more than 100,000 women, most of whom style and ape their performances on elaborate Bollywood song-and-dance musical numbers for customers looking for food, liquor and entertainment while police claim that many of the bars double as pick-up joints. AFP PHOTO/ Indranil MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

In its response to a petition filed against the reopening of dance bars in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Monday said it is better to dance than beg on the streets.

Terming dancing as ‘a performance of art’, the apex court rapped the petitioners, saying the mindset cannot be to prohibit.

The court in its response said, "It is better to dance than to go to streets for begging or earning livelihood through unacceptable means.”

The petition challenged dance bars in Mumbai on grounds that they are obscene and said what happens inside the bars is "not cultural dancing but obscenity."

"This is 2016. Dancing is an established profession. But if it becomes obscene, then it does not have legal sanctity," the court observed.

"We cannot decide on subjective morality, obscenity is however defined," the court added.

Last year, responding to appeals against the ban, the top court allowed the dance bars to be reopened and ordered that licences be given with conditions.

The apex court had last November pulled up the state government for not complying with its October 15, 2015 order, asking it to consider granting dance bars licence to hoteliers and had ordered it to process such pleas within two weeks.

The state government had in 2005 banned dance bars in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra. Nearly 1500 bars across the state had employed more than 75,000 women dancers.

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