India's top court paves way for bars with dancers to reopen

NEW DELHI — India's Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for the reopening of Mumbai's dance bars, which had been a nightlife staple in the country's entertainment capital until they were outlawed six years ago.

The court ruled that the bars featuring young women paid to wear sexy clothing and dance to Bollywood music no longer need to be more than a kilometer (half a mile) from religious sites, schools and colleges. It also scrapped plans to force the bars to have security cameras and a partition between bar rooms and dance floors.

There were some 700 dance bars in Mumbai and another 650 in other parts of Maharashtra state, employing 75,000 dancers, before the state government ordered them closed in 2012 on the grounds they corrupted young people.

The state government framed a new law in 2016 imposing stiff restrictions, but the hotel and restaurant owners found them to be unacceptable and petitioned the top court.

The court, however, accepted the state government's plea that the dance bars be allowed to stay open in Maharashtra state between 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. every day and not until 1:30 a.m. as demanded by the Bar Owners Association.

People at these bars can tip the dancers, but can't throw money at them as in the past, the court ruled.

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