The Bombay High Court yesterday heard a writ petition filed by Maharashtra Wine Merchants Association and refused over the counter sale of liquor in Mumbai. The court has asked the Municipal Commissioner to decide on the issue.
Division bench comprising of Justices Nitin Jamdar and NR Borkarhave granted four weeks’ time to the State and other respondents to file a reply in the plea seeking directions to refund the proportionate amount of license fee.
The petitioners hasprayed for two reliefs- firstly, refund of the proportionate amount of licence fee and secondly, a challenge to the notifications/orders dated May 5, May 12 and May 22, with a direction to permit over the counter retail liquor sale in Mumbai.
Advocate CharanjeetChandarpal represented the petitioners and Government Pleader PP Kakadeappeared for the State.
Chanderpal submitted that in the cities of Pune and Nashik, where an identical situation exists, normal sale of retail liquor is permitted and there is no reason why the same cannot be done in Mumbai.
Chanderpal also referred to the order passed by the Supreme Court in respect of a petition from Tamil Nadu on the same issue. SC had stayed an order of the Madras High Court wherein closure of over the counter sale of alcohol was ordered and home delivery of alcohol was allowed instead. Chanderpal submitted that the system of online/home delivery of liquor has various difficulties and can have adverse social impact, and it is also not safe. Thus, he sought relevant directions to the respondents and quashing of impugned notifications.
The bench noted,
“The impugned order dated 22 May 2020 issued by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai does not permit over the counter sale of liquor and permits e-commerce platforms to be utilized for delivery. This decision is in the nature of policy. Such a decision entails evaluation of various competing factors. Situation may differ from place to place. The relevant factors can also undergo a change by passage of time.”
Therefore, the Court concluded that the petition should be placed before the Municipal Commissioner who will take an appropriate decision on the issue. Court will now hear the petition on the issue of refund of proportionate license fee once the is filed by the State within four weeks.