HC permits liquor vends with valid licence in city to reopen forthwith

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Sep 2017 10:13:09


Staff Reporter,

Bringing smile on the faces of owners of liquor shops, permit rooms, hotels within municipal limits with valid liquor permits, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday
stated that those “whose licenses are already renewed for the year 2017­18, are free to resume their business forthwith.”

As directed by the High Court, the State Government informed that it had decided to allow resumption of business by all existing licence holders immediately in the first step. The license holders within municipal limits whose licenses were not renewed but lapsed after March 31, the Government promised to renew the licences at the earliest. This is likely to provide major reprieve to around 92 per cent hotels, permit rooms within Nagpur city.

The Government also promised to issue guidelines within one week to State Excise authorities for renewals and licensees can approach district level authorities for renewal. After tough stance of Supreme Court on March 31, most hotels and permit rooms had to close down the liquor joints and their stocks was sealed by State Excise department and licenses were not renewed.

A specially constituted division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Rohit Deo while taking on record a communication by Joint Secretary P H Wagde to the Government Pleader informing about allowing resumption of activities by liquor vends with valid licenses within municipal limits and renewal of eligible licensees within shortest possible time, wondered the delay on part of State Government to take unambiguous stance in the light of Supreme Court’s clarificatory order.

This prayer by the State Government was strongly opposed by the Petitioners’ Senior Counsel M.G.Bhangde, stating that it was not required. Explaining reasons for the delay in framing guidelines, Additional Government Pleader Ketki Joshi stated that Apex-Court’s clarification of July 11 was uploaded on the official website only on August 23 and till then the State Govt. was not aware of it.

The High Court while turning down the request made by respondent authorities seeking one week’s time to frame guideline in this regard relating to its policy in municipal and other areas, made it clear that by September 5, the Government must place before the High Court its guidelines containing policy in this regard.

The High Court made it clear that “ no further accommodation will be granted on that day and the Court shall proceed to pass suitable orders.”
The Supreme Court on July 11 clarified that its ban on liquor sell and consumption on national and state highways was not applicable to licensed establishments situated on national and state highways within municipal areas. The Apex Court order has clearly stated that a highway means essentially a road connecting, cities, towns and villages, and excludes all intra-city arterial roads.

Though the Supreme Court order has effectively resolved the grievance of licensed establishments within municipal areas, but still a large number of petitions will require adjudication. The High Court has posted the matters for orders on next Tuesday and stakeholders are anxiously awaiting outcome of court proceedings.

Senior Advocates M G Bhangde, S P Dharmadhikari and C S Kaptan with Advocates Deven Chauhan, Anil Kilor and Shyam Dewani and other lawyers appeared for the petitioners. Addl GP Ketaki Joshi and Nitin Rao represented the state.