Kochi: Kerala High Court has asked the excise commissioner to refund the licence fee of a bar closed after the takeover of the building by the revenue authorities for the metro rail for that period.
The court said that it was “indeed harsh and onerous to inflict on the firm the pain of losing” the entire licence fee even for the period it remained shut.
“Since it could not run its business from April 10, 2014, and the department had fully known of this fact, the firm was entitled to be refunded the proportionate licence fee for the unused period, i.e., almost the entire year, save one week," the court held.
The petitioner Cochin Tourist Corporation's E.K. Uthaman, argued that revenue authorities had sealed the building in which the bar was functioning with the aid of police and excise officials.
The revenue authorities later allowed the firm to reopen the bar to exhaust the remaining stock of liquor.
It was allowed to open on the condition that the building should be surrendered when the authorities required it. So, the firms approached the excise authorities to get the license renewed at Rs 23 lakh as the revenue authorities did not insist on closing the business.
The licence thus was renewed with effect from April 1, 2014. However, on April 10, 2014, the revenue authorities once again took over the building and demolished it. As a result, the firm could run the business hardly for a week. It was contended that the excise officials had fully known that the bar could not use the licences.
The state argued that the firm initially had reopened the bar only to exhaust the stock.
“Suppressing this fact, the firm had sought renewal of its licence from the excise department. Unaware of the developments, the department renewed the licence. As long as the excise department had not prevented the firm from carrying on its business, the department could not be compelled to refund the amount for the fault, if any, on the very licensee's part," he contended....