The Tamil Nadu government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Madras High Court order to shut down liquor shops till the lockdown due to the outbreak of coronavirus is over.
On Friday (8 May), state-owned Tami Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) was directed by the High Court to close liquor shops. The Supreme Court has asked the state governments to explore online sale and home delivery of liquor in the spirit of social distancing norms amid the lockdown.
The state government in it plea said the apex court has refused to entertain a writ petition seeking total ban on sale of liquor, as the same is a policy matter within the domain of state.
"The High Court misinterpreted 8 May order passed by a three-member bench of this court, in which the court declined to direct states to close down liquor stores pending the lockdown and left it to each state's discretion to consider non-direct sale including online sale/home delivery of liquor", said the plea filed in the top court.
The Tamil Nadu government contended that the apex court order recognised states have a broad margin of power to determine whether and how to affect sales of liquor in this lockdown period and therefore, the High Court order is a clear case of judicial overreach.
"The court below has pushed the petitioners in a position where the only option available to them is to effect sales through online methods and home delivery and has laid down further directives as to how to effect this", said the government's plea.
The state government submitted that it is pertinent that online modes of effective liquor sales are not even available in the vast majority of state at present and can only be implemented after following the due procedures under law.
"The extent of judicial overreach in the present case will have the effect of stultifying a major commercial activity in the state and it is salient that in no other state, where liquor is being sold (with the exception of perhaps Maharashtra where the COVID-19 figures are 3-4 times that of Tamil Nadu), are the sales being carried out exclusively through online means and that this is in fact an add-on to sales through physical retail outlets", said the plea.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Satynarayana, taking note of long queues and assembly of large crowds outside liquor shops, ordered the closure of alcohol vending outlets in Tamil Nadu till the lifting of lockdown.
The High Court observed people have blatantly violated the conditions imposed for regulating the crowd in TASMAC shops selling liquor.
The court observed that about 3,850 shops across the state were opened, and a record sale of Rs 175 crore was made.
"It is also reported that the number of police personnel being infected with COVID-19 disease is also on the rise and deploying them for controlling the crowded tipplers before the TASMAC shops would also put their life at risk, besides preventing them from discharging their duties in places, where their services are really required", the High Court had observed.
This news has been published via Syndicate feed. Only the headline has been changed.
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