HC seeks govt response in two weeks
Srinagar: The J&K High Court has issued a notice to state government, seeking its response to a plea for complete ban on the manufacture, sale, storage and consumption of liquor in the state.
A division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey asked the government to file response within two weeks to the plea filed by Karwani Islami, a religious organisation which has also sought court’s directions to declare the provision of excise act and J&K liquor license and sale rules as unconstitutional and against public policy.
It has also sought directions to seal all other shops and establishments where liquor is stored and sold, including a wine shop run under the name and style of “Sandeep Chatoo” at Batwara here.
The Karwan-i-Islami has also urged the court to recall its 27 October 2015 order, refusing to ban sale and consumption of liquor in the Muslim majority state.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the court while passing the judgment has not directed the outright closure of all the wine shops operating in the state but neither the wine shop known as ‘Sandeep Chatoo Wine Shop’ situated at Batwara, Srinagar has been closed down nor has there been any kind of let up in the manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of liquor in the state,” the religious organisation said.
It also referred to the apex court ruling, holding that constitution confers a “qualified” and not an “absolute” right to trade in liquor and that state can completely prohibit trade or business in portable liquor since the trade is “res-extra commercium (a thing outside commerce). A citizen therefore has no fundamental right to do trade or business in liquor, it added.
“The court while passing the (27-october-2015) judgment has not taken not of the Supreme Court ruling as such deserves to be recalled and the (government is) obliged to impose complete prohibition on manufacture and sale of liquor in the state,” the organisation said.
It said that the states like Gujarat, Bihar, Kerala, Nagaland and Lakshadeep have already banned the liquor trade in their states “being injurious to health in the public interest causing an annual loss of around 12000 crores to its exchequer almost in each state.”
The petitioner has recalled court’s observation, underlining that by merely bearing the labels printed on the liquor bottles that “consumption of liquor is injurious to health”, the evil of liquor cannot be spread.