Kerala alcohol ban: ‘Liquor business not fundamental right’

The apex court had asked the state to explain why there was no ban on five-star hotels

Kochi: The state government on Tuesday submitted before Kerala High Court that it should not interfere with the liquor policy adopted by the government.

The state also made it clear that there was no discrimination in the prohibition imposed on bar hotels in the state.

The state made the submissions pursuant to a directive of the Supreme Court on a batch of pleas challenging the new liquor policy.

According to the government, the policy was evolved as an attempt to improve the health and nutrition standard of its citizens.

Mr V.S. Suresh Kumar, additional secretary, taxes department, filed the affidavit which claimed that the government could create a monopoly for the manufacture, possession, sale and distribution of liquor as a beverage.

The apex court on various occasions had upheld the same. “The state had exclusive right or privilege in respect of potable liquor.

A citizen had, therefore, no fundamental right to trade or does business in liquor.

The concern of the bar owners about the method of enforcement would be taken care of and enforcement measures would be strengthened to avert widespread bootlegging and sale of illicit liquor.

Directions had been given to officials of excise, revenue, police and forest departments to conduct joint raids in the state to curb illegal manufacture, possession, transport and sale of illicit liquor,” the affidavit said.

The apex court had asked the state to explain why there was no ban on five-star hotels.

The state defended its action and submitted that there was no discrimination among a class of persons so as to warrant interference by the High Court.

The state further pointed out that in exercise of the power of judicial review, the courts do not ordinarily interfere with the policy decision of the executive unless the policy be faulted on grounds of mala fide, unreasonableness, arbitrariness or unfairness.

It was best left to the discretion of the state government, it said.

( Source : dc correspondent )
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