The Supreme Court has upheld the cancellation of liquor licence of a Calcutta restaurant and ruled that liquor shops or bars cannot operate within 1,000ft of a place of worship or educational institution.
The apex court rejected the argument of Somdev Kapoor, the proprietor of the restaurant Bhimsain Vaishnav on MG Road, near Burrabazar police station, that though he had got the licence in 2010, he had applied for it in 1992 and hence it could not be cancelled invoking rules that came into effect in 2003.
Liquor sale was allowed beyond 300ft of places of worship and educational institutions till 2003, when the radius of the no-liquor zone was increased to 1000ft.
Muslim Khawateem Khilafat Tanzeem, an NGO, and its president Nazia Elahi Khan, had filed a PIL for cancelling the licence on the ground that the restaurant was within 1,000ft of Gurudwara Bara Sikh Sangar, Shree Digambar Jain Vidyalaya, Shree Jain Swetambere Panchayati Temple, Shree Laxmi Narayan Mandir, Shree Shree Satya Narayanji Mandir and also a mosque.
Calcutta High Court on December 14, 2012, upheld the PIL and directed the state excise department not to renew the licence when it expired in January this year.
Kapoor appealed to the apex court against the order, contending that since the application for licence was made in August 1992, the rules at that time would be applicable to the restaurant. An apex court bench said in its order: “…the application of the appellant, was submitted in 1992 but had not been taken up for consideration at all for number of years. Even the appellant had not taken any steps by sending any reminder or followed it up with any request to the department to grant him bar licence on the basis of said application.
“The appellant woke up from slumber and started insisting that his application submitted in the year 1992 be considered. The appellant very well knew that on the basis of new rules he would not be able to get bar licence. Therefore, the strategy adopted was to resuscitate the application of 1992 and demand its consideration on the basis of un-amended rules.”
The court made it clear that since the permission was granted in 2010, the amended rules alone would prevail.
“We fail to comprehend as to how the application filed in 1992 could be considered in 2010. In any case, when the request of the appellant was considered in the year 2010, Rules of 2003 as amended in 2004 had to be applied,” the bench said.