No delay in suspending bar licence of of Fort Kochi-based hotel, says Excise

The Excise department has shot down allegations of delay in suspending the bar licence of the Fort Kochi-based hotel No 18 where the victims of the Chakkaraparambu accident had attended a late-night party on October 31, just hours before speeding their way to death.

The department had served the hotel a notice on October 23, more than a week before the said party, for serving liquor beyond the permissible time of 9 p.m. However, the bar licence was suspended only on November 2, a day after the fatal accident. The department claimed that there was no delay, and that only normal time was taken for the completion of formalities.

The Excise Circle Inspector concerned had to submit a report to the Deputy Excise Commissioner who in turn had to forward it to the Excise Commissioner, as the latter alone is authorised to suspend the licence. The order suspending the licence came from the Excise Commissionerate in the evening of November 1, which, incidentally, was a dry day. It was served by the Excise Circle Inspector concerned the very next day, sources said.

A case was also registered against the hotel manager and the licensee. It was followed by a second case against the licensee after the Circle Inspector conducted an inspection of the bar on Friday and found that liquor was billed at 9.12 p.m. as against the closing time of 9 p.m.

Though the offence is a compoundable one and the licence is revoked within a week or two usually, the department has chosen not to do so in the case of hotel No 18 considering the prevailing circumstances.

Excise officials reasoned that the inspection was delayed by more than a month so as not to malign any potential forensic evidence or fingerprints in view of the ongoing police investigation into the party and the accident thereafter.

A senior Excise official said the department hardly had any role as of now though the city police had registered eight cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act against Syju Thankachan, an accused remanded in judicial custody in connection with the accident. “The police have more authority than us and in any case, a crime warrants only one case. We may come into the picture if a specific complaint is lodged with us against him,” he said.

Meanwhile, the department has stepped up checking against potential rave parties and serving of liquor beyond the permissible time limits. It has identified and is closely watching places notorious for hosting such parties.

Besides, a special drive is set to get under way shortly and will last till January 3 in view of the festive season.

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 9:23:08 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/no-delay-in-suspending-bar-licence-of-of-fort-kochi-based-hotel-says-excise/article37847809.ece