A recent incident at Delhi's Aquila restaurant at Ansal Plaza, went viral and was shut down by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). The restaurant had allegedly denied the entry of a woman clad in saree. A closure notice was issued by SDMC to the restaurant forcing it to stop being operational.
Reports however state that the reason for the closure issued by the SDMC, was due to absence of a health trade license.
What triggered the incident?
A week before, a video showing a women being denied entry into the restaurant went viral. Apparently she was now allowed since she was clad in saree and as per the restaurant it does not categorize under - smart casual. The woman posted a short video of her argument with the restaurant staff and few pictures of herself in a saree.
Immediately, following the pursuit, the National Commission for Women noticed and lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police Chief to investigate the incident. The Commission also sent out a letter to the director of Aquila to report to it on 28th September with an explanation and all the necessary documents.
Defending against the allegations, the restaurant claimed that the woman had slapped one of their staff members. In retaliation, the hotel authorities had requested the woman to leave. One of the hotel gate managers had mistakenly made a statement on sarees being not part of the smart casual dress code. The authorities further apologised for the incident, stating, “At Aquila, we believe in honouring our Indian community and have always welcomed our guests in all dress codes from modern to traditional.”
Details of the closure notice issued by SDMC
The closure notice was issued on 24th September. It however did not mention about the incident that occurred with the woman. The notice mentioned about the inspection being conducted on 21st September. A public health inspector in charge of the investigation have reported that the restaurant did not possess a health trade license. Additionally it was operating under unhygienic conditions and was constructed on an encroached public land.
Here is the excerpt from the SDMC public health department notice
“The public health inspector again inspected the site on September 24 and found that the trade is running under the same condition. You are directed to close the trade within 48 hours of the receipt of this notice failing which suitable action including sealing will be taken without assigning further notice,”
Discussion in the SDMC House meeting
At the SDMC House meeting on 22nd September, Abhishek Dutt, the Congress councillor from Andrews Ganj, moved a proposal for a fine of INR five lakh to be levied on hotels, restaurants or bars that deny entry of a woman in a saree. His concern was how can a restaurant operate withput a legal health trade license.
Immediately after the proposal, the notice was issued by SDMC for the shutdown of Aquila restaurant.
It is a high time that hotels and restaurants operating throughout India be investigated to check whether they are running legally with proper license. And along with it, its crucial to respect a woman's integrity and morals.
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