Thursday, November 26, 2009

'After midnight, eat at bus stands or railway stations'

'After midnight, eat at bus stands or railway stations'
By: Imran Gowhar Date: 2009-11-25 Place: Bangalore

Police commissioner says in-house company canteens can remain open beyond deadline, but other places better get permission

Though the Karnataka High Court has ruled in favour of the police strictly enforcing the midnight deadline for eateries in the city, it has also said establishments may remain open if the police grant them permission.

The police say they are ready to be lenient in extending the deadline for a particular restaurant if it offers a genuine reason while seeking permission.

Reiterating that the city police will strictly enforce the deadline, Police Commissioner S M Bidari said the rule helped maintain law and order, especially during the night.

Excerpts from an interview with MiD-DAY.

Has this deadline issue become an ego issue between the police and restaurateurs?
Of course not. The rule is being enforced keeping in mind the requirements of maintaining law and order, and for the good of the general public.

What about policemen, journalists, BPO workers who need food at night?
There is no bar on in-house company canteens, where the general public is not admitted. For the benefit of others who feel hungry at night, we have given permission to hotels and restaurants to operate at bus stands, railway stations and airports.

Why is it that no other city feels such a rule is necessary?
Every metro has got this rule. In fact, Bangalore is the only city which enforced the rule late. I have copies of the order from other cities. The rule also says that any eateries or restaurant that wants to get an extension for even one hour has to pay a hefty amount in licence fee, besides providing a genuine reason for the extension.

Are the city police less competent in handling law and order during night?
The city police are competent enough. Otherwise you would not see people sleeping peacefully as you do now.

Is it not the duty of the police to make humane rules rather than deprive people of food?
We are making human rules. Earlier it (deadline) was 11 pm; we have extended it to midnight. Besides, very few would like to have their dinner late in the night.

The background
The Karnataka High Court on Monday disposed of an appeal filed by the management of Empire Hotels challenging a single bench order of July 3 that had upheld a notification stipulating midnight as the deadline for restaurants. The court held that restaurants must take permission from the police commissioner if they wanted to operate after 12 am.

As the midnight closure order was issued as per Section 31 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, to maintain peace, and law and order, and the court said it found no grounds for interference. On August 27, the police commissioner had rejected an application filed by the management of Empire Hotels seeking permission to operate six establishments from up to 3 am. On May 19, the police had directed all hotels and restaurants mentioned under the Public Entertainment Order issued in August 2007 to comply with the midnight closure deadline and conduct their business from 6 am to midnight.


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