Kerala

Kerala says bar hoteliers have no fundamental right to sell liquor

File photo of a liquour shop in Kerala. The Kerala government on Tuesday informed the High Court that it was its “avowed” policy to reduce liquor consumption in the State stage by stage.   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

Bar hoteliers have no fundamental right to trade in intoxicants such as liquor as it is considered to be outside the purview of commerce, according to an affidavit filed by the State government on Tuesday in the Kerala High Court in response to a batch of petitions challenging the bar licence cancellation notices. Disposing of bar hoteliers’ petitions against an interim order of the High Court, the apex court had earlier directed the State government to file an affidavit in the cases by September 16.

The apex court had also restrained the government from cancelling the bar licences till September 30. The High Court had refused to stay the decision to cancel the bar licences of 321 hotels.

The government said in the affidavit that the Supreme Court had held that the State had the power to impose restrictions and prohibitions on the liquor business. It could also create a monopoly for itself or in an agency created by it for manufacture, possession, sale, and distribution liquor. It was settled that the court did not ordinarily interfere with the policy decision of the executive unless the policy was faulted on grounds of mala fide, unreasonableness, arbitrariness, or unfairness. Nor a policy could be faulted on the mere ground that it would hurt the business interests of a party. The present liquor policy did not violate Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution. The government had decided to close down 10 per cent of the existing shops every year and close all the shops within 10 years as part of its policy. The State had exclusive right or privilege in respect of potable liquor. A citizen had no fundamental right to trade or do business in liquor.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 1:50:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-files-affidavit-on-liquor-policy-in-high-court/article6416229.ece

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