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Bhubaneswar: While Commissionerate Police claims that bars operating in the State capital don’t have permission to employ girls on their premises, serious allegations of contempt of court has been brought by Odisha Bar and Restaurant Association following the raid on 10 such bars here last night.
Bhubaneswar DCP Anup Sahoo today said that based on complaints regarding functioning of some illegal dance bars under Laxmi Sagar Police Station jurisdiction, raids had been conducted on 10 bars and 96 girls rescued.
While the girls were released after checking their identity cards, the DCP said that appropriate action will be taken against the bar owners who are engaging girls without permission.
Sahoo asserted that the bars had also been violating the conditions to play music on their premises. As they did not satisfy the conditions, the renewal applications of many bars were rejected.
He said the license issuing authority and government will be apprised about the employment of girls in bars which is in violation of the Odisha Excise Act, 2008. Further action in this regard will be taken as per the instruction of the license issuing authority or government.
President of Odisha Bar and Restaurant Association, Satya Mohanty, said as per Section 25(3) of Odisha Excise Act, 2008, a woman cannot be employed in any such premises in which such liquor is consumed by the public.
On the other hand, as per Rule 44 (4) of Odisha Excise Rules, 2017, women not below 21 years may be engaged in musical programme or dance programme or orchestra in the liquor shops licensed to sale foreign liquor or IMFL for consumption on the premises under the jurisdiction of Police Commissionerate Cuttack, Bhubaneswar with prior written permission of the Commissioner. Rule 44 (5) lists some conditions the Commissioner shall impose before granting such permission.
In view of the Excise Rules and the decision of the Supreme Court in a similar case disposed off earlier this year, the Orissa High Court on March 3, 2019, in response to writ petition of a city-based bar and restaurant, had ordered the Odisha Government to consider the application to grant permission and issue “Dance bar license” in favour of the petitioner-hotel.
The Court had further mentioned that the application should be disposed of as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of four weeks.
Mohanty said that either the Commissionerate Police have not received the order or as model of conduct (MCC) was in force during the period when the Court issued the orders the Government is yet to bring an amendment in the Odisha Excise Act, 2008.
He further asserted that as the 4 weeks time frame given by the court has expired, the Bar and Restaurant Association will request to resolve the issue or take legal action against the authorities.