When the alleged offence under the POCSO Act is not committed on the premises, Kala Kendra’s performance licence cannot be revoked: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court recently ruled that the Natraj Sanskrutik Kala Kendra, Nashik, performance licence could not have been revoked due to a criminal complaint filed against the owner because the alleged crime was not conducted on the Kala Kendra’s property.

As the proprietor was exonerated of all charges, Judge RG Avachat said, the basis for cancellation is no longer valid in the case of Natraj Sanskrutik Kala Kendra through its proprietor Vishal Nandkishor Gangawane v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. ( Criminal Writ Petition No. 411 Of 2023)


From June 16, 2017 through March 31, 2018, Natraj Sanskrutik Kala Kendra’s owner, Vishal Gangawane, was granted permission to operate the establishment. The permit was extended till March 31, 2021. In 2017, he was charged with violating the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956’s Sections 5 (procuring a person for prostitution) and 6 (detaining a person in a place where prostitution is practised), as well as several IPC provisions and the 2012 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

He was given two show-cause notices for licence revocation in 2020. On October 25, 2020, his licence was permanently suspended owing to the offence that had been filed against him. His Home Department appeal was turned down. which led to the current writ petition. The petitioner stated in the document that he never took part in any illegal actions connected to Tamasha. The District Collector revoked the licence after ignoring his response to the show cause notices.

A licence may be revoked for violating the rules under Rule 238 of the Licensing and Regulating Places of Public Amusement (Other Than Cinemas) and Performances for Public Entertainment, including Melas and Taashas Rules, 1960. The court made a note of the show-cause notifications and the cancellation order because of a rule violation. The judge remarked that the show-cause letters and the cancellation order do not indicate that the licence was revoked.


As the proprietor was exonerated of all charges, Judge RG Avachat said, the basis for cancellation is no longer valid. “The authorities do not contend that the aforementioned offence was committed on Kala Kendra’s property. The orders in question “are liable to be set aside because the basis on which the petitioner’s licence was cancelled no longer exists and the licence could not have been revoked on the abovementioned basis,” the court ruled.

The court ordered the District Magistrate to assess the petitioner’s application for licence renewal (if he files one) in accordance with the 1960 Regulations because the licensing period has already expired. The court further instructed the DM not to deny renewal on the identical grounds that were used to terminate his licence.

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