Thiruvananthapuram | Describing the Kerala High Court order on closure of bars as a recognition of its liquor policy, Congress-led UDF government today said it would move forward with its agenda of reducing availability of alcohol with a view to make total prohibition in ten years.
Reacting to high court order which upheld the government order directing closure of more than 700 bars, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it was a recognition of the state government’s liquor policy.
Rejecting the stand that the court allowing bars attached to four-star category hotels was a set back to the government, he said only around 60 bars were allowed to function now. ‘This cannot be seen as partial recognition of the liquor policy’, Chandy added.
The new liquor policy had envisaged permitting bars attached to five-star category hotels only, but the high court allowed its functioning in four-star and heritage hotels also. Besides closure of bars, the new policy approved in August last also proposed to close every year 10 per cent of the retail outlets of the State Beverages Corporation, the sole agency for the supply of Foreign Made Liquor in the state.
This would mean that around 40 retail outlets of the Corporation would be close down per annum leading to complete closure of retail outlets by ten years time. First batch of such selected retail outlets of the corporation were shut down on October 2 last.
The policy also declared all Sundays in the state as ‘dry day’ along with other declared ‘dry days’ like Gandhi Jayanthi Day, First day of Every month and Sree Naranaya Guru Jayanthi. State Excise Minister K Babu said the main legal hurdle for total prohibition had been cleared with the court verdict and the government would go ahead with its policy of bring down the availability of liquor.
The government would examine the court order and consult with legal experts and decide whether to go for an appeal against the verdict, he said. KPCC president V M Sudheeran, who led a campaign in the party and outside for the closure of bars, said the high court verdict was in tune with the interest of the people.
He also said the court verdict has paved the way for the government to go forward with its agenda of total prohibition.
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