It is better to dance than to beg on the streets or earn a living through unacceptable means, the Supreme Court observed on Monday, while hearing a petition against dance bars in Mumbai. The apex court made the statement after petitioners opposed to dance bars said the goings-on inside the establishments were “not cultural dancing but obscenity”, NDTV reported.

“This is 2016. Dancing is an established profession,” a bench headed by Justice Deepak Misra said, adding that the court was “treating it as a performance of art” and that they cannot base a decision on “subjective morality”. The court also directed the Maharashtra Police to verify within a week past records of dance-bar owners and workers to enable them to acquire licences. It also asked the state government to check whether the conditions it had approved earlier were being adhered to.

On March 2, the Supreme Court had ordered the Maharashtra government to issue licences to dance bars by March 15. However, dance bar associations claim that the government has made it “impossible” for them to get licences – of the 139 bars and hotels in Mumbai that have applied for licences, 39 have been inspected so far but no given clearance. Four of these were issued licences, but they were revoked later.