Chennai | The Madras High Court today observed that courts had neither jurisdiction nor expertise to restrict business hours of state-owned retail liquor-vending outlets.
It is for the government to consider the issue of time of sale. But, if it gets too short, those addicted to it will start taking liquor home. They may even start purchasing two bottles in place of one and take one home. There is no straight jacket formula to address the issue, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, said.
A PIL filed by Advocates Forum for Social Justice had sought a direction to the state government to restrict the sale of liquor from Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) outlets from 5pm to 10 pm and sought modification of liquor-vending rules.
When it came up for hearing, the bench orally observed how could courts decide the time when they should be opened and closed. …The elected governments are there which have to take a decision.
Suppose we say they can be open from 10am to 2pm, what would be the rationale behind such an order’ the judges said, adding that the issue of business hours was like a cut-off date, which was necessary but differed from issue to issue.
It cannot be justified (to the satisfaction of all), the judges said.
Wondering how could prohibition be introduced when neighbouring states like Kerala and Puducherry had no such restrictions, the judges said Puducherrys liquor shops were reportedly open from 8am to 11pm. …courts anyway had neither jurisdiction nor expertise to restrict business hours of Tasmac retail liquor vending outlets, they orally observed.
The bench then adjourned the matter to August 24, with a direction that the petitioner-association amend the relief sought by making necessary suggestions which the government could consider.
It observed that suggestions should be made to have more de-addiction centres.
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