A division bench of Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana refused to entertain a writ petition seeking absolute ban on manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The Petitioner, R. Dhanasekaran had stated that since people have become accustomed to not consuming liquor because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the government should utilize this opportunity to absolutely prohibit dealings in and consumption of alcohol.
Advocate ML Ravi had appeared for Petitioner and Advocate General Vijay Narayan with Govt Advocate Sathish had appeared for State.
Re-opening of liquor shops is not in the interests of general public and such the Government is duty bound under Article 47 of the Constitution to take steps that are conforming to standards of improved public health.
The Court held that regulation of alcohol is purely a matter of state policy that does not warrant judicial interference. Further, it pointed out that Article 47 is not an “enforceable provision” and thus, the petition has no leg to stand.
“This Court is not inclined to interefere with the matter of State Policy of opening or reopening of the State liquor shops at this point of time, since the Central Government has already indicated allowing re-opening of the liquour shops in the present stage of Covid lockdown and the State is likely to take a decision in this regard soon. Further, Article 47 of the Constitution of India is not an enforceable right of the petitioner and therefore, it does not give rise or any cause of action of the petitioner to seek any Mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Accordingly, we do not find any merit in the present writ petition.”
The State, represented by Advocate General had submitted that the State policy on liquor was already in place inasmuch as the Government had regulated the sale of liquor under its own legislation, namely Madras Sale of Liquor Act, 1937 and 2003 Rules for opening of TASMAC shops to sell liquor.
The petition was accordingly dismissed.