Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday criticised the government for not controlling the overcrowding and sinuous queues in front of Bevco outlets amidst the pandemic.
Directing Excise Commissioner and BevCo MD to file an affidavit in this regard the court said, "You cannot have more than 20 people for a wedding or the funeral, but you can have more than 500 people in the queue. The people standing in the queue are not following social distancing."
The court will consider the case again on July 16. Then Bevco MD and excise commissioner should appear before the court online.
A bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran further said, "No crowd can be allowed in front of the liquor outlets as Covid spread is continuing. Kerala is one of the states where the highest number of daily Covid cases are reported. Hundreds of people are queuing up without maintaining social distance. This will lead to disease transmission."
"There was a facility to control rush in front of the outlets when they were reopened after the first lockdown. But this time, no such system was introduced and the govt failed to control the rush. The dignity of persons standing in the long queues should be considered by the state. You seem to be selling your product, not like a commodity, but like contraband. Though there was an order to provide adequate facilities in 2017, the government has not taken any action. There is a systemic failure on this issue," he added.
It is the duty of the corporation to make sure that sufficient facilities are given to their customers so that they can make their choice of purchase of liquor in a civilised manner like any other commodity and then leave the counters without their self-respect being compromised. It was rather distressing that the factual situation at the ground level has not been altered at all, and on the contrary, it has become far more perilous. At the time when the court had delivered the judgment, the COVID pandemic was not even in our contemplation or wildest imagination. The surge of the pandemic has now made the equation far more complicated, he stated.
"The surge of COVID has added a new dimension to the ominous problem... We are going through the second wave of the pandemic and if this situation is allowed to continue, in the manner, it is presently tolerated, the third wave may not be far away," he added.