Monday, 30th October 2017

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SC stays ban on liquor sale

The Madras High Court order prohibiting the vending of alcohol was prompted by violation of social distancing norms in the state

By Our Legal Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 16.05.20, 3:49 AM
  • Updated 16.05.20, 3:49 AM
  • a min read
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The Supreme Court (iStock photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Madras High Court order banning the sale of liquor during the lockdown and suggesting that Tamil Nadu explore the possibility of online sale to avoid chaos on the roads.

The high court had on May 8 passed the order after noting violation of social distancing norms designed to combat the pandemic. However, the government-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) had challenged the high court order on the ground that the ban would adversely affect the state’s revenues. It said it was taking all steps to prevent violation of social distancing norms.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for TASMAC in the Supreme Court, assailed the high court order as illegal and pointed out that it was the state’s prerogative as to how it should sell liquor. He said the high court’s suggestion for selling liquor online was fraught with danger as it ran the risk of adulteration that could be difficult to stop considering Tamil Nadu’s sprawling size.

Advocate P.V. Yogeswaran, appearing for one of the petitioners in the high court on whose PIL the ban had been ordered, opposed a stay. He submitted that the petitioner was not for a total ban but only for regulated sales. “Selling liquor is not a fundamental right. It’s a commercial activity,” he argued.

However, the bench stayed the high court order and issued notices to the petitioners who had filed individual PILs in Madras High Court against the alleged unregulated sale of liquor during the lockdown.