The Supreme Court on Monday declined to interfere with an order of the Madras High Court dismissing a public interest writ petition questioning Tamil Nadu’s liquor policy of taking over retail liquor vending in the State through TASMAC.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur dismissed a special leave petition filed by ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy against the High Court judgment.

Senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for Mr. Ramaswamy submitted that the State government through TASMAC directly involving in marketing and selling of liquor violated Article 47 of the Constitution, dealing with Directive Principles of State Policy. (Article 47 says: “the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health.”

Justice Jain asked the counsel, “where is the constitutional prohibition {under Article 47} that the State should not engage in sale of liquor. If you go by the Directive Principles, then no public servant can drink. Can it be done? Otherwise no public sector can function.”

When counsel expressed concern that the State had opened liquor shops at every nook and corner in the State and this was responsible for increasing number of accidents due to drinking, Justice Jain observed in lighter vein “there is a liquor shop in the name of every God.”

Justice Lokur observed “there is more number of road accidents” and asked the petitioner to concentrate on ‘traffic’.

In his appeal, Mr. Ramaswamy pointed out that the government took over liquor trade in 2003.

Instead of conceiving and executing welfare measures, officials like district collectors and revenue officers were spending their time auctioning TASMAC bars, scouting for new locations to open outlets and auctioning empty liquor bottles and cartons. The policy of promoting liquor sales was an affront to Constitutional principles, he said. Further the State was also raising liquor sales target on a monthly basis and new outlets were being opened in residential areas at regular intervals.

Assailing the High Court judgment, he sought a declaration that the 2003 liquor policy was ultra vires the Constitution, being contrary to Article 47 of the Constitution.