The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that restaurants in Bengaluru in Karnataka offering musical performances by live bands, cabarets and discotheques have to obtain a licence from the police.
A Division Bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre said that since these performances are carried out in restaurants where the public has access and, therefore, in the larger public interest, "these performances have to be controlled, regulated and supervised".
The bench took notice of the fire in some Mumbai pubs where the lives of several innocent customers was lost due to the failure to comply with safety measures and the Upahaar Theatre tragedy in Delhi where 59 persons were killed and over 100 injured.
The court's order came on a plea filed by the Karnataka Live Band Restaurants Association, challenging the High Court's order to uphold rules relating to Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Entertainment (Bengaluru City) Order, 2005, of the Bengaluru Police which made it compulsory for restaurants to obtain licences for live music band performances in restaurants.
The apex court said the police order of 2005 was issued in view of the safety and morality of the people at large and it "does not suffer from any legal infirmity and is therefore constitutional".
"Indeed, the order of 2005 has been issued only with a view to control, regulate and supervise three performances in restaurants. Since these performances are displayed in a restaurant where public has an access and, therefore, in the larger public interest, these performances have to be controlled, regulated and supervised by imposing reasonable restrictions in law under Clause (6) of Article 19(1)," it added.
The bench said that the police order imposes well conceived conditions in the public interest and these conditions ensure the safety and welfare of the general public who regularly visit such restaurants to partake of food and witness live performances by artistes.
"Indeed, if these safety measures are not adhered to by owners while running their restaurants, the general public will always run a risk of subjecting themselves to any untoward incident endangering their lives and safety," it added.
Upholding the Karnataka High Court order, passed in 2007, the apex court said those who find themselves unable to ensure compliance with these conditions or feel it is not possible for them to comply, may not allow performances in their restaurants.
The bench directed the Bengaluru Police Commissioner to verify and ensure strict compliance with the licence directions.
The Commissioner will verify and ensure that restaurant owners who have not obtained licences so far but are still running their restaurants were granted reasonable time to apply for licences after ensuring compliance as provided in the order of 2005.
"Failure to obtain licences after the reasonable time will result in closure of such restaurants after a notice of closure."
The court said the Commissioner shall ensure no noise pollution in nearby areas due to restaurant performances and remedial steps thereof.
It said to avert untoward incidents due to fire on licensed premises, appropriate safety measures must be carried out under expert guidance.