No one will shed tears by closure of one shop, says judge

“The State is running liquor shops by quixotic interpretation of the Prohibition Act and even in the teeth of Article 47 of Constitution wherein the State had undertaken its endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health,” the Madras High Court Bench here has observed.

Justice K. Chandru made the observation while allowing a writ petition seeking shifting of liquor shop from a particular locality as it had reportedly turned out to be a nuisance to aged people, college girls and others.

“By the closure of one shop, no one will shed tears and it will not bring about any loss to the State especially when the turnover from liquor sales in this State had already crossed Rs. 16,500 crore per annum,” he said.

The judge pointed out that the writ petitioner, M. Edison, had objected to locating the liquor shop at North Main Road in Valliyoor of Tirunelveli district even before the shop started functioning. He and another individual residing in the same locality had sent a representation to the Collector apprehending nuisance. Yet, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) officials went ahead and opened the shop.

The Tirunelveli District Manager of TASMAC himself had admitted in his counter affidavit that a doctor owning a nursing home in the locality too had objected to the location of the liquor shop in November last year itself. However, the issue was put to rest after the lessee of a bar attached to the liquor shop assured the doctor that there would not be any kind of disturbance to the nursing home.It was only thereafter, that the Collector accorded permission to locate the shop which began functioning since January 10 this year.

The District Manager also stated that there were no violations of Tamil Nadu Liquor (Retail Vending) Rules 1989 as the shop was well away from the prohibited distance from educational institutions and places of worship.

“The allegation of the petitioner that the consumers of liquor throw the bottles on the roof of his house is also not denied,” the judge said and ordered shifting of the shop to some other authorised place within two weeks. He also recalled a similar view taken by a Division Bench of the High Court in a judgement delivered last year.

“There is no static measure of nuisance which can be applied to all situations alike. It is for the court to decide on the basis of materials as to whether the extent of nuisance was sufficient to direct the closure of liquor shop located in a particular area,” the Division Bench had said.

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