Tamil Nadu

500 people can purchase liquor from a shop a day, Tasmac tells HC

Tokens have been printed for distribution, Tasmac tells HC

The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) on Thursday told the Madras High Court that it had printed tokens for distribution among purchasers of liquor and that it proposed to issue only 500 tokens a day, at the rate of 70 tokens an hour, in every shop.

Also read: TASMAC increases prices of liquor

“Persons in excess of the day’s quota [of 500] will be given tokens with a time slot for the next day and sent back. This is done to ensure that there’s no overcrowding and to maintain physical distancing,” a counter affidavit filed by Tasmac before the court read.

Also read: Long queues, umbrellas used to reserve spots, as TASMAC outlets open across Tamil Nadu

The counter was filed before a Full Bench of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justices Vineet Kothari and P.N. Prakash, seized of a batch of public interest litigation petitions filed against the reopening of liquor shops before the lockdown is lifted. In so far as the mad rush witnessed in liquor shops across the State on May 7, when they were reopened before their closure was ordered by the court on May 8 was concerned, Tasmac said that overcrowding at certain shops was something that had taken place in all States.

Attributing the crowd to the reopening of shops after 41 days of lockdown, Tasmac said that it had stopped sales in 12 shops where overcrowding was reported and that policemen had also been deployed in most shops for crowd control.

Tasmac managing director R. Kirlosh Kumar said that the High Court ought not to have ordered closure of the shops when the Supreme Court, in a similar case, had refused to restrain State governments from reopening the shops and had left it open to them to consider online sales. “It is respectfully submitted that the order of the honourable Supreme Court is binding upon all courts in the country,” the MD said and added that guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry on May 1 permittes the sale of liquor, gutkha, tobacco, betel leaves and so on.

Also read: On Day 1, chaos prevail at TASMAC shops in Chennai’s neighbouring districts

Listing out 12 States where liquor was being sold in retail shops, Tasmac said that of the 5,338 liquor shops spread across Tamil Nadu, the government had decided to reopen only about 3,850 shops, excluding those situated within the limits of the Greater Chennai police. It also raised a technical objection that most present petitioners before the court had challenged only a press release issued by the government on May 4 regarding a decision taken to reopen the shops and not a consequent government order issued on May 5.

In so far as the cap imposed on the sale of liquor to individuals, Tasmac said that its intention was to sell to every individual only the quantity of liquor which a person was entitled to be in possession at a time, as per the Tamil Nadu Liquor (Possession for Personal Consumption) Rules of 1996.

Anything in excess will amount to bulk sale and such sale had been prohibited, it said.

During the day-long hearing of the case on Thursday, a battery of senior counsel, including R. Vaigai, N.L. Rajah, ARL. Sundaresan, Veera Kathiravan and others argued against reopening of the shops until the lockdown is lifted completely and normalcy is restored.

After hearing them at length, the judges adjourned the hearing to Friday for Advocate General Vijay Narayan to reply to their wide-ranging submissions, questioning the urgency to open liquor shops when the State was facing an unprecedented crisis due to a pandemic.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 8:44:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/limiting-buyers-to-500-per-shop-in-a-day/article31586513.ece

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