Backing Kerala liquor ban, Supreme Court tells states ‘contain, if not curtail, consumption’

People in Kerala are reported to consume alcohol worth Rs 30 crore a day

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: December 30, 2015 7:30 am
kerala liquor ban, kerala alcohol ban, Supreme Court, Supreme Court liquor, kerala bars, kerala bars ban, kerala ban on liquor, kerala government Sale and consumption of alcohol only at five-star establishments in Kerala, the Supreme Court ruled

Reminding all state governments that the Constitution places a responsibility on them to “at least contain, if not curtail, consumption of alcohol”, the Supreme Court today approved Kerala’s new liquor policy that prohibits drinking in public and restricts serving of alcohol to five-star hotels.

A bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and Shiva Kirti Singh held that “strict state regulation is imperative” to discourage regular and excessive consumption of alcohol. Hence, it said, not granting bar licences to hotels other than five-star establishments has to be viewed as a “positive step towards bringing down the consumption of alcohol, or as preparatory to prohibition”.

It underlined: “The court cannot be blind to the fact that a social stigma at least as far as the family unit is concerned is still attached to the consumption of alcohol. Free trade in alcohol denudes family resources and reserves and leaves women and children as its most vulnerable victims.”

Dismissing a clutch of petitions filed by hotels and their associations against the new policy, the bench was unequivocal: “We find no illegality or irrationality with the intention of the State to clamp down on public consumption of alcohol…the impugned policy, therefore, is to be encouraged and is certainly not to be struck down or discouraged by the courts.”

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The verdict has come as a shot in the arm of Oommen Chandy’s Congress-led UDF government as the state goes for assembly polls within five months. Kerala has around two dozen five-star hotels.

Applauding the decision, Kerala Excise Minister K Babu told reporters: “We will go ahead very strongly with our anti-liquor campaign programmes as we want this habit to be removed from our society.”

The apex court found favour with Kerala’s argument that the policy aimed to curb excessive consumption of alcohol in the state, which constitutes almost 14 per cent of the national consumption rate.

“So far as this trade is concerned, Article 47 of the Constitution places a responsibility on every State Government to at least contain if not curtail consumption of alcohol…consumption of tobacco and liquor is undeniably deleterious to the health… Vulnerable persons, either because of age or proclivity towards intoxication or as a feature of peer pressure, more often than not, succumb to this temptation,” said the court.

Rejecting a contention regarding the classification of five-star and other hotels as being discriminatory, the bench noted that it has been made not only on the basis of status but also in the interests of tourism. “In other words, were it not for considerations of tourism, this exception in favour of five-star hotels may have been struck down,” it clarified.

The court also asked the state government to strictly regulate serving of liquor at five-star hotels after noting that some establishments have created special bars at lower prices.

It further cautioned against the issuance of licences rampantly for the sale of consumption of beer and wine, pointing out that it is “a gateway to the consumption of hard liquor, and indeed is a social malaise in itself,” and urged the state government to review its norms.

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First Published on: December 30, 2015 2:00 am
  1. R
    Roger
    Jan 15, 2017 at 12:26 am
    Would you sugest the same punishments for flouting that law?
    Reply
    1. K
      Kaliyug
      Jan 1, 2016 at 2:41 pm
      When you ban liquor then the police and politicians make the money, illegal stills open their doors and people who are alcoholic continue to find drinking spaces protected by local thugs, goons, police and politicians. The punishment for drinking or possession of liquor should be so strict that people stop, this can only happen if the people elect clean honest people.
      Reply
      1. S
        Sirius
        Dec 29, 2015 at 6:07 am
        So , alcohol is to be served only to Indians who can go to 5-starred hotels ? I.e., only the "suit-boot" wallahs, e.g Adani's, Ambani's ? That too in a Congress administered state ? What will Mr hi say now, as he has accused BJP to be "Suit-Boot ki Sarkar " ...
        Reply
        1. S
          Supreme_Corrupt
          Dec 29, 2015 at 6:14 am
          SUPREME CORRUPT(SC) of India. Most appropriate name. How stupid they will violate equality, fundamental rights. SUPREME CORRUPT SHOULD VOLUTARILY BURN THE CONSUTION THEMSELVES. S!!!!
          Reply
          1. V
            Vanan
            Dec 29, 2015 at 8:59 am
            Welcome to Tamil Nadu!!! Jaya can now illegally export liquor.
            Reply
            1. R
              Rajesh
              Dec 29, 2015 at 7:58 am
              Chandy didnt get enough bribes in the solar scam, smuggling alcohol is the next source of revenue.
              Reply
              1. R
                Rajesh
                Dec 29, 2015 at 10:07 am
                I guess you cant deny the facts, so you made a stupid comments. I have nothing against Mallus, a**, but I cant pretend that Mallus are not major alcoholics, the same way I cant pretend that Biharis are the most educated people in the country.
                Reply
                1. R
                  Rajesh
                  Dec 29, 2015 at 9:34 am
                  Liquor outlets sell at MRP, like grocer stores. Bars charge higher, like restaurants. Why is this news for you? People go to bars for different reasons. Otherwise one can sit at home and drink too.
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    Rajesh
                    Dec 29, 2015 at 9:35 am
                    Most unemplo state in the country and most alcohol consuming state bin the country. What have I said wrong? Facts are racist for you, mother f--ker?
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      Rajesh
                      Dec 29, 2015 at 7:31 am
                      So only rich people can drink liquor?
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Rajesh
                        Dec 29, 2015 at 10:09 am
                        Yes, and my comment stands. Only rich people can go out and drink liquor now. Everyone else must go to the store.
                        Reply
                        1. C
                          claire smith
                          Dec 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm
                          like bihar kerala men also mostly abroad so banning condoms or alcohol is going to make little difference
                          Reply
                          1. B
                            Brajesh Singh
                            Dec 29, 2015 at 8:05 am
                            This is not fair on the touchstone of right to equality, either ban should be complete or partial for everyone. But one sided ban uphelding by sc set a wrong precedent in the eye of common man.
                            Reply
                            1. R
                              Raj
                              Dec 30, 2015 at 4:26 am
                              So where are all the people who keep shouting about the "right to eat what we want" ? Where are the civil society people who are campaigning for the "Freedom" to eat what they want, wear what they want etc ? If eating beef is fine, why is drinking alcohol such a big deal ? Nobody was ever lynched for drinking the wrong type of beer or whiskey after all. How is it okay for the Supreme Court or Govts to ban alcohol - which has been part of human society since the days of cave men ? how is it okay for the Govt to waste public money and resources enforcing a liquor ban that has NEVER worked ANYWHERE in the world at ANY POINT in history and is against the individuals freedom to "eat what they want" and basic human liberties ?? I guess its okay to ban alcohol but beef is out of the question ?
                              Reply
                              1. M
                                Madhav
                                Dec 29, 2015 at 7:17 am
                                We were looking to a balanced judgement wherein small players will also benefit and thousands will land in income earning jobs.Having spent considerable time in bar related jobs,many lack the skill to apply themselves in other jobs.Now the business has become monopoly of five star hotels and How do you expect persons who have pocketed large sums on the fond hope of helping to reopen Abkari's hotels repay their ill gotten money to Abkari owners? I have no shame in telling this since keralites are mostly petty bourgeois in their outlook and rank and file opportunists,whether its CPM congress,League,Kerala congress....Abkari owners who have spent crores also stand to loose crores and mostly are under fear of distress proceedings....This will benefit KSBC and ordinary men who have no other choice but to get liquor from KSBC outlets and take shelter at home.The friendships and heated conversations,and occasional singing and emotional recollections now become things of past and we are deprived of an intimate experience as majority of us could not afford 5 star facilities.Government has hiked revenue expenses for services availed and hope to net the balance saved on abstinence from liquor to exchequer but in effect is putting ordinary lives insecure and frightening from a financial point of view.
                                Reply
                                1. M
                                  Madhav
                                  Dec 29, 2015 at 11:48 am
                                  beer who want it but ladies like you...
                                  Reply
                                  1. J
                                    jake
                                    Dec 29, 2015 at 9:45 am
                                    Beer and wine are still available in all the bars....dude I think beer is though to make merry with your friends... . I think it is a good time for businesses to rethink their business model...make it more like pubs in western countries...
                                    Reply
                                    1. J
                                      jake
                                      Dec 29, 2015 at 9:54 am
                                      My earlier reply was for your statement that only rick people can drink liquor...
                                      Reply
                                      1. J
                                        jake
                                        Dec 29, 2015 at 9:28 am
                                        Seriously, you can buy the liquor from any state beverages outlet, it costs only fraction of the money compared what they used to charge in the closed down bars...
                                        Reply
                                        1. J
                                          jake
                                          Dec 29, 2015 at 9:31 am
                                          aren't you a racist prick...
                                          Reply
                                          1. J
                                            jai
                                            Dec 30, 2015 at 7:13 pm
                                            will the supreme court take note that the goa government that has issued 24/7 permission to sell alcohol? more alcohol s lead to more revenue for the government and then they can LOOT!
                                            Reply
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