Mumbai, Nov. 26:  The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra Government to follow orders and start the process of issuing fresh licenses to the dance bars. An apex court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant said the Maharashtra Government must start issuing fresh licences to dance bars in two weeks time while expressing disappointment that the state was yet to implement its earlier order. Also Read - BMC Circular, Directing That Bodies of COVID-19 Patients Only be Cremated, Withdrawn

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared on behalf of the Maharashtra Government, however, said that any direction of the apex court will be respected and adhered to. The Maharashtra Government had amended the 2005 Bombay Police Act, which was challenged in the High Court by the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association. (Also Read: Supreme Court stays 2014 amendment banning dance bars in Maharashtra) Also Read - Bodies of COVID-19 Patients Should be Cremated Irrespective of Religion: BMC

The Bombay High Court had on April 12, 2006, quashed the government’s decision and declared the provision unconstitutional, saying it was against Article 19(1)(g) (to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business) of the Constitution. However, the state government had moved the apex court against the High Court’s order the same year. Also Read - COVID-19: 4 Saudi Arabia Returnees Tested Positive in Maharashtra, Transmitted Virus to 21 Family Members

On July 16, 2013, the Supreme Court had upheld the Bombay High Court verdict quashing the state government’s order and said the ban violated the constitutional right to earn a living. The state assembly had on June 13 last year passed the Maharashtra Police (second amendment) Bill, which prevented licenses for dance performances in three-star and five-star hotels. The ban also covered drama theatres, cinema halls, auditoriums, sports clubs and gymkhanas, where entry is restricted only to members.