A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has observed that in order to achieve the objective of reducing consumption of liquor in the State, sale of liquor and its consumption should be prohibited till 5 in the evening.
The Bench of Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair and Justice C.K. Abdul Rehim said alcohol was consumed while people relaxed in the evening after their work. No man in his right senses would consume alcohol while at work. However, people who were in the habit of excessive drinking turned out to be alcoholics in course of time and would reach a stage in which only alcohol would keep them normal. It was mainly this category of people who consumed alcohol in the morning. Providing liquor in the morning in every bar hotel would certainly encourage drinking during working hours, which would not only affect work, but would lead to alcoholism as well.
The court pointed out that since there was no check on alcohol consumption except in the case of drivers, anybody could guess how many people and even students consumed alcohol from bar hotels during working hours, affecting works and studies. The abkari policy need not always be directed toward total prohibition. However, the policy should be aimed at “encouraging people to develop healthy and refined habits in drinking befitting of a civilized society which has no place for both physically and mentally degenerated alcoholics,” the court said.
Reports of liver cirrhosis, mental disorders, and crime committed by alcoholics were very common. What the government should consider was restraining consumption and sale of liquor. Prohibition of consumption of alcohol during daytime would justify closure of bar hotels till 5 in the evening.
The court said that these were all matters for detailed examination by the government. It would keep these factors in mind while deciding on the suggestion of the court to limit the bar timings.
The State took the stand that it was in favour of the suggestion and it did not want to take a decision in a hurry.
The court made the suggestion for closing bars during daytime when an appeal filed against a single judge’s verdict striking down as illegal Section 28(1) of the Foreign Liquor Rules came up for hearing. The single judge passed the order on a writ plea by a bar hotelier challenging the rule regarding working hours of bars.