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Supreme Court asks States to consider online sale of liquor

People wearing face mask waiting in a long queue for purchasing liquor from TASMAC shop that was reopened at Kadambathur village in Tiruvallur district on Thursday, during the 44th day of nationwide lockdown.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Supreme Court on Friday left it open for States to consider online sales and home delivery of liquor during the COVID-19 lockdown period to facilitate social distancing.

 

Dismissing a plea challenging a government circular of May 1 allowing sale of liquor through direct contact sales during the lockdown, a three-judge Bench left it to the discretion of the State governments to provide a mechanism for online buying and home delivery of liquor.

“It shall be open for the concerned State Government to consider non-direct sale including on-line sale/home delivery of liquor to facilitate social distancing,” the Supreme Court ordered in a petition filed by Guruswamy Nataraj.

Mr. Nataraj, through his counsel Sai Deepak and Anindita Mitra, said there were 70,000 liquor vends across the country and over five crore people have purchased liquor from these shops. He claimed there had been a palpable rise in COVID-19 cases since the opening up of liquor vends and shops.

Mr. Deepak argued that nationwide lockdown had blunted the virus graph, but this decision to open up liquor sales would retard the struggle against the spread of infection. He had sought issuance of a fresh order to prohibit the sale of liquor at vends and shops through direct contact during the lockdown period or till the National Disaster Management Authority announced India to be out of the grip of the contagion.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had on May 1 had declared a “limited” lockdown which classifications of districts into ‘Red’, ‘Orange’ and ‘Green’ zones based on COVID-19 risk-profiling. The sale of liquor and tobacco products were allowed in some areas after ensuring a minimum six-feet social distancing.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 11:28:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-asks-states-to-consider-online-sales-home-delivery-of-liquor/article31534503.ece

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