People in India are using Twitter to vent their anger about a new policy that supposedly prevents women from wearing short skirts in bars and nightclubs in the city of Chandigarh. Indian media outlets reported that the Chandigarh administration would shut down discotheques that allowed "scantily dressed women" and "indecency" on their properties.
However, the policy entitled Controlling of Public Amusement 2016 does not contain any reference to an imposed dress code for women in Chandigarh. Instead, the policy, which came into effect on 1 April, states that a business could have its licence revoked if it has "indecent" elements or if it displays images of "scantily dressed women".
The policy reads: "The Noda Office may refuse issuance of fresh permission certificate or revoke the existing permission certificate for operation of business if it is considered to be indecent or of a scurrilous character... [and] any exhibition or advertisement whether by way of posters or in the newspapers, photographs of scantily dressed women."
While the administration failed to establish or define the terms "indecent" and "scantily dressed", there is no mention of women being banned from wearing short skirts when going out in the evening. However, many took to Twitter to complain that the new rules allowed authorities to impose "moral policing" over what women wear.
Manish Goyal, a restaurateur in Chandigarh, told the Times of India: "It's moral policing. How do you define a scantily dressed woman or being indecent? It's all subjective. What you may find indecent, I may find innocent. The administration should not reject permissions on such parameters."
The High Court in Punjab and Haryana had ordered the administration to frame the new nightlife policy to regulate the city's bars and restaurants following violence outside clubs. In addition to the dress code for women, the policy also addresses issues of political issues relating to sedition.
The policy reads: "The nodal committee can revoke permission for running business if it is considered to be seditious or likely to incite political discontent [and] contains offensive reference to personalities." It also notes that businesses are not allowed to "wound the susceptibilities of any nation or followers of any religion".