A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a nationwide prohibition of liquor as a “reasonable restriction” to uplift nutritional level and standard of living envisaged under Article 47 of the Constitution.
The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay contended that the right to health is an integral part of the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 and it is duty of the State to ban liquors, intoxicating drinks and drugs.
“Consumption of liquor, intoxicating drinks and drugs is the root cause of most of the road accidents, road rage, crime against women, domestic violence, rape and murder and many other social evils,” the petition said.
Quoting the recent Supreme Court decision upholding Kerala’s new liquor policy to prohibit public drinking and curtail liquor sales, the petition said States should desist from the sale of liquor to earn revenue without a thought for how it results in the “degradation of human life”.
“The duty to improve public health, especially of poverty-stricken people, who are major consumers of liquor and other intoxicating drinks and drugs, and to protect them from its injurious effect, must be discharged by all the States,” it said.
The petition has arraigned the Union, all States and Union Territories, the National Commission for Women and the National Human Rights Commission as parties.
It said the Constitution’s framers in 1948 had envisioned that States would endeavour to bring about prohibition.Hooch tragedies
Tracing the illicit liquor-related tragedies, the petition records the death of 308 people in Bengaluru, 104 in Mumbai in 2004, 180 in Bengaluru, Kolar and Krishnagiri in 2008 and 156 farmers in Sangrampur in 2011 after consuming toxic alcohol.
The petition pointed out that the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister in 2015 said in the Assembly that there was “no plan to ban liquor”. A year later, in 2016, the social effects of liquor was found in the confessions of three students of a government school in Delhi, who said they had taken to crime to buy liquor and drugs.
It referred to the several instances when the Supreme Court itself had found liquor to be the root cause of crime and social stigma in families. Seeking a legislative intervention to expand the definition of ‘liquor’ to include all alcoholic substances that can be used as intoxicants, the petition pointed to States like Gujarat and Bihar which have already introduced prohibition.