Bombay High Court de-seals liquor outlets, slams Maharashtra excise commissioner

The petitioners told the court that Joshi did not hear their grievances and they approached the District Collector, Sachin Kurve, for relief, as Kurve is the licensing authority in the suburbs.

| Mumbai | Published: October 13, 2018 1:55:54 am
HC to BMC: Grant hearing to residents objecting to tree cutting proposal The court was hearing petitions filed by 31 shopowners, whose outlets were sealed on Joshi’s verbal orders on August 11, after the Flying Squad of the Excise Department discovered they were allegedly delivering liquor directly to people’s homes. (File)

The Bombay High Court has ordered the immediate de-sealing of 15 liquor shops in the suburbs of Thane and Palghar, and criticised State Excise Commissioner Ashwini Joshi for “over enthusiasm and over zealousness (that) may cost (Ashwini) her career itself”.

The court was hearing petitions filed by 31 shopowners, whose outlets were sealed on Joshi’s verbal orders on August 11, after the Flying Squad of the Excise Department discovered they were allegedly delivering liquor directly to people’s homes.

The petitioners told the court that Joshi did not hear their grievances and they approached the District Collector, Sachin Kurve, for relief, as Kurve is the licensing authority in the suburbs.

“After hearing the petitioners, the Collector passed an interim order and then a final order allowing the appeal,” the petitioners told the court.

The lawyer appearing for the Excise Department said the petitioners cannot presume that the Commissioner will not give them a fair and reasonable opportunity to place their case before her just because she issued some oral directions at some stage. The lawyer told the court that Joshi would allow the appeal straightaway.

A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice B P Colabawalla said: “…she (Joshi) is not above the law. She may have all good intentions, but this is not the way to implement the law. She should be aware that justice should not only be done, but seen to
be done.”

The bench said: “…if the allegations against her are sustained, it would have an adverse impact on the career of a young official like the fourth respondent(Joshi), who has a long way to go. This over-enthusiasm and over-zealousness may cost her career itself. The law endows and entrusts such functionary with enormous powers. When they wield such powers having far reaching consequences, then such powers ought to be exercised cautiously and carefully. All powers are in the nature of trust (sic).”

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