June 27, 2021 1:46:47 am
THE BOMBAY High Court recently directed the Maharashtra excise department to consider and expeditiously decide within a month a representation by Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR), which has over 8,000 bars, restaurants and hotels as members, seeking relief related to payment of license fees due to closure of business amid the pandemic.
The HC also asked the state to permit the members of AHAR – on depositing 50 per cent license renewal fees – to carry on with their businesses under the existing FL-III licenses held by them.
A division bench of Justice SC Gupte and Justice M S Karnik on June 19 was hearing a plea filed by the association seeking reliefs in view of pandemic restrictions.
Advocate Sameer Pandit, appearing for AHAR, said that due to Covid-19 pandemic and closure of businesses of its members following restrictions imposed by the state, the petitioners deserve remission or relief in payment of license fees.
It was submitted that the HC, while hearing similar petitions, had given interim reliefs and on payment of 50 per cent of renewal license fees, the licensees who approached the court were allowed to serve liquor and beverages under FL-III licenses.
On June 23, the bench had granted similar interim reliefs to United Hospitality Association, an organisation of nearly 500 hotel and restaurant owners in Pune.
“There is nothing to distinguish the facts of the present petitioners’ case from the facts of those other cases,” the bench said while noting that the association had made a representation to the state on March 13 and June 12 seeking reliefs.
“These representations in any case need to be decided by the respondents. In the meantime, the petitioners’ members deserve the same interim relief as was granted to the petitioners in other cases,” it added.
The HC said: “Accordingly, the petitioners’ members are permitted to deposit 50 per cent of licence renewal fees with the respondent state. Against the deposit of such fees, the respondent is directed to consider and decide the petitioners’ June 12 representation as expeditiously as possible and preferably within four weeks.”
The court will hear the pleas next on July 16.
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