The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the state government and Prohibition & Excise Department on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking framing of specific rules to issue liquor licences to hotels. The PIL has also alleged that due to the lack of such rules, many existing hotels, which have procured these licences, are flouting the guidelines prescribed by the state while awarding the licences.
The division bench, led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy, issued the notice to the state government and sought its response. The PIL has been filed by a businessman, Renish A Mehta, a resident of Bhesan in Junagadh district, through his lawyer H J Karathiya. He has said in the petition that the state should “frame strict rules for issuance of licences considering the provisions of the Section-143 of the Gujarat Prohibition Act,1949”.
Karathiya said that when the Prohibition law was enacted in the 1960s after the formation of Gujarat, it was mentioned that specific laws should be framed. However, except guidelines, the government never came up with the rules. The PIL alleges that the state was not even implementing its guidelines while issuing liquor licences to hotels.
The PIL state that there are two major guidelines —hotels that have three star or higher status are eligible for the permits and there should be no school, college, student hostel, public dispensary, hospital, prominent religious place or labour or slum or Dalit population within 200 metres of the hotel. The petitioner said in the PIL that in 2014-15, “the government issued licences to four hotels — Courtyard by Marriott, The Grand Bhagwati, Regenta and The Metropole — that either have schools, temples or slums within 200 metres.
It says that while giving licences to almost 55 hotels in the state, these guidelines have not been followed. The PIL states that till the pendency of this litigation, no fresh liquor selling licence should be granted to any hotel.