Indicating that the Congress in Kerala is going back on its new liquor policy, the government on Wednesday informed the High Court that it wanted to conduct a study on the impact of the new policy. As the issue is getting protracted in the court, 300-odd bars now operating were allowed to function until January 20.
Advocate-General K P Dandapani told the court that the tourism and the labour secretarites have been asked to look into the impact of the new liquor policy on state’s tourism and labour sectors.
Last week, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had told the Assembly that the government would bring in necessary changes in the liquor policy after considering the legal and practical aspects.
This spurred the aggrieved bar owners, who had already challenged the new liquor policy in the court, to inform the high court that the government is planning to change its liquor policy. Subsequently, the High Court asked the government to inform what changes in the liquor policy were in the pipeline.
On Wednesday, the government informed the court it wanted to study the impact of the liquor policy. The Advocate-General said the impact study would be completed within three weeks.
The new liquor policy, which envisaged closure of all non-five star category bars immediately, and total prohibition in a decade, stemmed from a tussle of Congress state president V M Sudheeran’s idealism and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s pragmatism.
The liquor policy had suffered setbacks in the court several times. The High Court not only stayed the closure of bars, also asked the government to grant licence to new four-star applicants. The High Court had exempted the four-star hotels from the purview of new liquor policy, which planned the closure of that category of hotels.
Kerala’s tourism industry had complained the government about the new policy, in which Sundays have been declared dry days. The bar hotel owners had said the closure of hotels would lead to loss of job thousands of people.