Minister, police differ on women serving liquor

Minister, police differ on women serving liquor

Representatives of 48 bar and restaurants meet Renukacharya

Minister, police differ on women serving liquor

On Wednesday, the minister made a public announcement that his department had no issues regarding women serving liquor and food at bar and restaurants.

As if taking cue, representatives of 48 bar and restaurants in Bangalore met Renukacharya seeking the consent of the Excise department to employ women as bartenders.

Two court verdicts have come in handy to the minister, which state that bar owners with CL9 licence from the department were free to employ women.

According to sources in the Home Department, owners of a few bar and restaurants in the City, who have been facing problems with the City police, approached the Excise minister. The police had cracked down at some of the watering holes claiming that women employees danced to lure customers and also doubled up as pick-up points at night.

From other places

Most of these bar and restaurants are located in Ashoknagar, Majestic and Koramangala. In the raids conducted on these premises, the City police had arrested scantily clad women dancing, the sources said. A large number of women employees at the bars are from Mumbai, Kolkata and Rajasthan.

However, Renukacharya denied that there was any clash of interest between the City police and the Excise officers, who are authorised to enforce excise licence conditions in pubs and bars. He further said that even the courts had allowed women to be employed in bars.

In September 2008, the Karnataka High Court allowed women to be employed as hostesses in bars and restaurants, lifting restrictions terming them “outdated” and “gender-insensitive.”

The High Court had struck down sections of the Karnataka Excise Rules 1967 that prohibited women from working in bars and restaurants. The High Court while announcing its verdict also referred to a similar judgment by the Supreme Court in 2007, which permitted women to work as bar tenders provided their security was ensured.
Renukacharya said that it was not the Excise department's responsibility to dictate a dress code for women working in bars.

However, obscenity and illegal activities will not be tolerated at the premises. The department will cancel the licences of such joints.

Not the first time

Also, bar and restaurants cannot double up as dance bars and women are only permitted to serve liquor and food, the minister said. This is not the first time Renukacharya has entered into a war of words with the City police.

He had earlier had a spat with former Bangalore City Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari over the extension of bar timings.

Told to stay away

Renukacharya had asked Bidari to stay away from the affairs inside the bars, as they fall under the jurisdiction of his department.

Now, Bidari's successor B G Jyotiprakash Mirji has directed his officers to crack down on pubs and restaurants that employ dance girls discreetly.

Both Excise and Police departments have the authority to conduct raids on bars, if they are found violating rules. However, the Excise department usually does not conduct raids on bars and restaurants, official sources said.

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