A plea challenging some parts of the state government’s prohibition law, that bans liquor consumption in the state without a permit, has been filed in the Gujarat High Court. The petition has argued that alcohol has existed as part of the human society for thousands of years and its consumption is natural.
A division bench led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy, after a brief hearing, adjourned the case for further hearing till next week.
The bench has also asked the government to prepare its stand on the subject.
The petitioners — Rajiv Piyush Patel, Milind Damodar Nene and Niharika Abhay Joshi — have argued that the state does not have the legislative competence to “criminalise and punish private transport, possession and consumption of intoxicating liquors and entry into the state in intoxicated state.”
According to the petition, under Entry 8 in the list of II of the Seventh Schedule under article 246 of the Constitution “states have power to legislate on the subject of intoxicating liquors, that is to say, the production, manufacture, possession, transport, purchase and sale of intoxicating liquors.” However, the petitioners have argued that “state can’t legislate with regard to consumption of intoxicating liquor or entry into the state in intoxicated state”.
According to petitioners, these liquor rules are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as it creates a “class of people to whom permits are issued, allowing them to purchase, possess and consume liquor.” The petitioners have also questioned the permission extended to Army canteens, messes and special economic zones.
They have also challenged the rules that decide who can purchase liquor, quantity of liquor and other conditions. It says that such provisions violate right to privacy.
“With expanding interpretation of right to life, as contained in Article 21, a citizen has right to choose how he lives, so long as he is not a nuisance to society. The state can not dictate what he will eat and what he will drink,” they argued.
Stating that Article 21 “needs to be viewed in changing times,” they said, “the petitioners can’t be prohibited from his/her choice, within the confines of private space, subject to orderly behavior, of privately possessing, transporting and consuming his/her liquor.”