SC on Gender Cap in Orchestra Bars

The Government of Maharashtra had placed a restriction limiting the number of female and male performers in orchestra bars to four each, but the Supreme Court (SC) overturned it.

Overview:

The SC said the limit of performers should not exceed the number 8 but there should not be any restriction on gender composition. The bench that passed the order consists of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice K.M. Joseph.

The SC said that this gender cap breaks the performers’ fundamental rights as well as those of the license owners under Article 19 (1) (g) and Article 15 (1) of the Indian Constitution.

Orchestra performances are a common feature for which a license has to be procured namely the Premises and Performance licenses under the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951’s Licensing and Performance for Public Amusement including Melas, Cabaret Performance, and Tamashas Rule, 1960.

Which condition was challenged by the appellant?

The Commissioner of Police, Brihan Mumbai, added several conditions to the existing ones. The appellant, on the other hand, challenged two significant conditions that contributed to the gender difference.

  • Only four female singers/artists and four male singers/artists are permitted to remain on the permitted stage by the licensee.
  • Only eight musicians are allowed to remain on the stage at any given time (four male and four women).

The High Court had dismissed the appeal to the Commissioner of Police’s conditions, ruling that the right to impose them was obtained from the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, and the rules which were framed under it.

Later, these conditions were overturned by the Supreme Court.

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