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Court grants excise chief plea

Nov. 26: Gauhati High Court today gave the excise department more time to submit its report on officials who granted licences to open liquor shops illegally in the city and fixed February 6 as the next date of hearing.

A high-powered committee, headed by excise commissioner Shantanu Thakur which submitted its recommendations on liquor sale and consumption before Gauhati High Court on Friday, told the court that it needed more time to examine the role of officials involved in the issuance of licences.

The panel sought extra time, as the process to collect records from the excise department and the office of Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner was time-consuming.

It sought extension of the deadline till January 31 next year.

The high court, during its hearing of a writ petition on liquor shops and bars in the city today, approved the plea of the committee.

The court fixed the next date of hearing of the writ petition on February 6 and asked the excise department to submit the report within the same date without failure.

The panel was constituted by the state government following the high court order on August 17, after Dispur sought a modification of the August 9 interim order banning liquor shops and bars within 500 metres of educational and religious institutions, hospitals, courts and tribunals.

On the other hand, owners of liquor shops and bars have expressed a great deal of curiosity over the recommendations of the high-powered committee. Among others, the panel recommended that operational hours for liquor shops should be from 3pm to 9pm, whereas for bars, they should be from 1pm to 10pm.

It has also recommended declaration of at least two dry days in a month in addition to those on selected days of religious festivals.

“We have to sit and discuss the implications of the recommendations in our business,” a bar owner said.