Kerala Government is ‘duty bound’ to control use of intoxicants and there is no legal bar for it to promulgate a policy restricting sale of Indian Made Foreign liquor in the state, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said before the High Court today.
The entire policy is to be viewed as a regulatory measure in restricting the trade of liquor’, Sibal said before the court of Justice K Surendra Mohan on a batch of petitions filed by bar owners, challenging the closure of 300 liquor outlets in the state.
Pointing out that liquor was a ‘social evil’, Sibal said, government was ‘duty bound’ to control the use of intoxicants.
The bar hotel owners cannot claim discrimination. It is the objective of the state to bring down the levels of consumption. State is concerned with public health.Nobody can claim a right to trade in liquor. Government is trying to reduce consumption in open places, he said and asked if profit was more important than public health.
On behalf of bar owners, Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram continued his argument attacking the new excise policy.
He contended that by closing 20 per cent of liquor outlets run by bar hotels, government was continuing with 80 per cent liquor shops through its own outlets.
This was discriminatory and violative of equality principles, he said.
Meanwhile, the state Beverages Corporation in an affidavit informed the court that the motive of private bar hotels was to make profits, while state run outlets provide quality liquor at an affordable price.
Arguments are being heard by the court on a batch of petitions by bar hotel owners, challenging the validity of new excise policy and shutting down of their outlets.
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