Chennai

Consider closing all Tasmac bars, HC tells govt.

The Madras High Court on Monday wanted to know from the State Government as to why it should not close down all bars attached to liquor shops run by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) across the State since it was the bars that were serving as safe havens for criminals to hatch plans for their crimes.

A Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and V. Parthiban raised the query and asked Additional Advocate General P.H. Arvindh Pandian to ascertain the government’s reply by July 4. They also raised a few other questions which included an unanswered old query as to why liquor shops should not be opened at 2 p.m. instead of 12 noon every day.

Though Tasmac had filed a reply to the question stating that liquor shops in the neighbouring States were opened by 10 a.m. itself and Tamil Nadu was the only State to delay it by two hours, the judges expressed their dissatisfaction over the answer and said the grave situation posed by liquor addicts in the State could not be compared with other States. Wanting to hear the government’s stand on the issue of delaying the opening of the shops by two more hours, Mr. Justice Kirubakaran wondered what was the necessity to open liquor shops by noon itself since it only encourages addicts to visit the shops even before they could start their day’s work and begin earning something for the day.

Further, observing that the ruling party had come to power by promising in its manifesto that it shall close down the State-run liquor shops in a phased manner, the Bench pointed out that though the government had closed down 500 shops each in 2016 and 2017, nothing had been done so far in the present year.

‘Instal CCTVs’

It wanted to know as to when the government would be closing down the shops this year. During the course of the arguments, the senior judge also expressed serious concern over liquor being sold across the counter in most of the Tasmac shops to minor children irrespective of their sex, including those in school uniforms. Taking note of the videos being circulated on social media of high schoolchildren purchasing and consuming liquor with ease, he suggested that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras be fitted in all liquor shops to keep a check on illegal sale of liquor to minors by taking appropriate action against the staff concerned.

Referring to Tasmac’s annual turnover of ₹30,000 crore, the judge said: “Tasmac is robbing away at least 60% of income of the poor and middle-class families. Addiction to liquor has reached high school level and it may go down further if left unchecked. Do you (government) want to enrich yourself even at the cost of children?”

The judge stressed on the need for opening de-addiction centres in every district since addiction to liquor happened to be the prime reason for the increase in crimes such as chain snatching and rape and other sexual offences. The possibility of sale of spurious liquor could not be cited as a reason for the State to sell liquor to its citizens, he added.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 11:09:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/consider-closing-all-tasmac-bars-hc-tells-govt/article24139782.ece

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