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Restrictive restaurant and pub timings; an attack on citizens' liberty
17 June 2010

Reacting to the backtracking of the Karnataka government on the proposal of extending the closing timing of restaurants and pubs in Bangalore from 11:30 pm to 2 am, Loksatta spokesperson Mr. Ajit Phadnis commented that "Such extremely restrictive restaurant/pub timings are an attack on the citizens' liberty".

Comparing Bangalore with the other major cities of India, Mr. Phadnis pointed out that in Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi restaurants and pubs are allowed to be open till about 1:30 - 2 am. It is only in Bangalore that we have such a restrictive deadline.

Mr. Phadnis elaborated that the regulations in the other cities have been amenable to change with the times. The closing time of 11:30 pm was understandable twenty years back when people got out of their offices as early as 5:30 or 6 pm. But today in most IT and BPO companies, people finish work only by 8 pm and given the long travel time involved they are effectively able to sit and relax only by 10 pm. With the present closing time regulation as soon as they sit in a restaurant/ pub the waiter asks them to place their 'final' order.

Mr. Phadnis, however, wondered whether the other political parties could perceive this shift in citizen preferences given that the nature of their politics itself has remained so unchanged in decades!

Replying to comments on the possible increase in cases of drunken driving which has often been cited as the reason for continuing with these restrictions, Mr. Phadnis expressed that "Our city police is just as or probably more capable than the police of any other city in India. We have to ensure that traffic rules are strictly enforced even at night."

Mr. Phadnis lamented that it is sad that the proposal for extending the timings was considered only after intense lobbying by the hotel and liquor industry and not when citizens expressed the need for it. This only reflects the lobby-friendly and citizen-unfriendly nature of the present government.

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