Order passed on petitions by one of IMFL licence-holders

Pointing out that equality of opportunity is an essential requirement in a democracy, the Madras High Court has directed TASMAC to frame necessary guidelines with regard to issue of orders and indents to IMFL manufacturers.

The court also said the consumer should have a choice which might vary based on the brand quality. Hence, all liquor brands should be made available in the retail outlets. The TASMAC should be fair and transparent in its approach. Particularly, it should have a scientific and commercial data on the basis of consumer choice for placing orders with IMFL manufacturers.

It could not act in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner.

Justice V. Dhanapalan passed the order while allowing petitions by Golden Vats Pvt. Ltd., one among the 11 IMFL licence-holders, who manufactured liquor and supplied it to TASMAC. The company said its manufacturing unit was located in remote Karnavur near Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district, a most backward area, in order to create employment opportunities for the rural people.

The petitioner’s senior counsel, P. Wilson, said TASMAC’s action in not placing the orders and indents for supply of premium brands of the company violated Articles 14 and 19 (1) ( g ) of the Constitution. He prayed the court for a direction to TASMAC for placing orders with the company on a par with other manufacturers.

The authorities said both the system of placing orders and indents with various companies were being done in a transparent manner. There was no favouritism.

Mr. Justice Dhanapalan said it was seen that there was no rationale or basis for placing supply and indent orders with various manufacturers. Other than TASMAC, the petitioner could not sell its products anywhere in Tamil Nadu or outside the State or abroad. From July last year, the State-owned company, changed its purchase pattern and drastically reduced issuing indent orders to the petitioner company. From July to December 2013, the petitioner got orders for only 28,300 cases of premium brands while other IMFL companies got orders for premium brands to the tune of 10 lakh cases.

The State could not itself be an extra-constitutional authority to violate the constitutional provisions.

The Judge directed TASMAC to take the average monthly retail sale of each of the petitioner’s premium brands from the date of launching till October 2013. It should place the difference of backlog of supply and indent orders from July last year and continue to place orders with the company on the average monthly sale basis.

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