Covid 19: A Deterrent Monetary Slap by Kerala HC on Liquor Home Delivery

The Kerala High Court has fined a man with Rs 50,000 for filing a petition seeking Home Delivery of liquor from Beverages Corporation during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the writ petition filed to Kerala High Court, the petitioner had mentioned that larger crowds are gathered at liquor shops and so standing in the queue is not safe for him due to the outbreak of coronavirus. He sought the Hon’ble High Court to direct the Beverages Corporation for home delivery of liquor.

However the Hon’ble Ccourt rejected his petition and ordered the petitioner the Contempt he deserved and slapped a heavy fine of Rs.50000/-.  In the judgment, the Hon’ble Justice states: “One cannot help, but lament at the selfishness of the petitioner in the instant case, and others like him in Society, whose obsession with perceived “rights” blinds them to the obligatory ‘duty’ that they owe to their fellow citizens”. While the petitioner attempted to withdraw the petition, the judge went on to impose fine of 50000/- for filing the frivolous petition.

Gujarat serves as a classic example, where the government has been successful in bringing forth policies to contain the adverse effect of liquor prohibition on different sectors of industry

Taking Gujarat prohibition story, the Kerala government introduced a complete ban on alcohol. In 2014, the consumption of alcohol in Kerala was 8.2 liters per year (per capita consumption), this is well above the national per capita average of 5.6 liters per year. Complete Ban of Alcohol led to a decline in the growth rate of tourism in Kerala, from 8.2% in 2013 to 7.5% in 2014 and 5.8% in 2015.  Estimated revenue loss from tourism tune up to `Hundreds of Billion Rupees’. The total revenue generated from MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism alone, grew to  9.1% in 2013, and 4.8% in 2014, but plummeted by 0.6% in 2015. Due to such a substantial impact on the economy and employment, the Kerala government had to repeal its decision of alcohol ban in June 2017.

The History of Liquor Ban in India

  • Gujarat has a restrictive law that forbids the manufacture, storage, sale, consumption of Illicit Alcoholic Beverages and even death penalty for possessing, makers and sellers of illicit liquor. Foreigner Nationals, Non Resident Indian’s are allowed to purchase liquor with certain restrictions on days.
  • In Nov 2015, the CM of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, Announced for Complete Ban on alcohol from April 1, 2016
  • State of Lakshadweep Banned the sale & consumption of alcohol. In this Union Territory, consumption of alcohol is allowed only on the island of Bangaram
  • Manipur Liquor Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2002, Alcohol prohibition implemented in the districts of Imphal, Thoubal, Bishnupur districts
  • Liqour prohibition was introduced in Chennai, during the tenure of Rajagopalachari as Chief Minister in 1952

In 2018 Nitish Kumar Govt. in Bihar amended the Prohibition Bill on liqour, imposing fine of 50,000/- on the offenders. In 2016, Bihar Govt. imposed a Ban on consumption, possession, sale of Alcohol. Liquor Ban is the poll promise made by Nitish Kumar in 2015 Assembly election

From last 2 years, Nitish Kumar, facing pressure from different quarters, is ready to take down some of the punishments provided under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act.

Ban and the impact on Tourism and State Revenue

Liqour Prohibition has its own set of Advantages and Disadvantages, its implementation is a Challenging task. Prohibition of liquor causes Revenue Loss and results in questioning the state financial stability. After GST, excise is the major revenue and taxes are collected by the State governments on their own

Bihar government announced the liquor ban in September 2016, but it eventually led to heavy loss to the state government ex-chequer as excise revenues fell from 3,140 crore for 2015-2016 to `28 crore for 2016-2017. At this stage Bihar Government has withdrew capital incentives which were given to industries and shows large impact on economic activity. MICE tourism in the state has taken a huge blow; with events such as conferences, launch of product, etc, shifted to other states causing tourism and occupancy rates in hotels to come down at a sharp rate

Number of Deaths caused by the consumption of illicit alcohol in Gujarat, from 2012 to 2016, is about to the count of 177 lives. Effect of Illicit liquor deaths in Bihar is at maximum, since the prohibition of liquor in 2016.  According to WHO report in 2014, Illegal consumption of alcohol in India was approximately at 50% of its total liquor consumption.

Kerala High Court Judgments on Ban of Alcohol

  • SC Reserves Verdict on Plea Against Kerala’s Liquor Ban

SC reserved its judgment on pleas against High Court’s order retaining Government’s liquor policy that ruled issuance of bar licenses to premium lodges.

  • Kerala HC Quashes Case Against Prithviraj

Kerala High Court has dismissed criminal case registered against actor Prithviraj for not displaying statutory warning in proper way against liquor consumption in a particular scene of a movie.

  • Kerala HC: Rules Restraining Women Employment in Liquor Shops ‘Unconstitutional’

Court orders employment of women in liquor shops terming as “unsustainable” and “violation of the Constitution”. Kerala State rules restraining women from such jobs.

  • Supreme Court Bans Sale of Liquor on National & State Highways

SC ruled ban on all liquor and allied shops on Highways throughout the country and that existing shops not to be renewed after Mar 31 of next year.

Kerala High Court has said for serving liquor at a function in one’s home for (a temporary license is 50,000/- per day is required) but opined that license is not needed for the same for serving liquour.

In the case of Alex v. Chacko, the petitioner approached the Hon’ble Kerala High Court under Section 13 (6) of the Foreign Liquor Rules, which makes it mandatory for an individual or a group to take a temporary license of FL-6 by paying Rs 50,000 for every day on which alcohol is served. This order by the court is applicable to those who are not in the liquor business with a complete license and does the same on temporary basis.

The States of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have declared that they will enforce prohibition of alcohol, but in a phased manner. There is no timeline yet for implementing the ban in both the states. Prohibition of alcohol makes manufacturing, consumption, possession, purchase, sale, transport, import and export of alcohol an illegal act.

India has a history of various states experimenting with laws on liquor, ranging from total prohibition to restricted sale of alcohol to phased closure of liquor shops

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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My name is Potineni Ratna Sekhar and I am pursuing L.L.B. (2016 to 2019) from Indira Priyadarshini Law College, Ongole, and Affiliated to Nagarjuna University in Andhra Pradesh. I completed M.Tech from JNU, New Delhi (1998 to 2000) and completed B.Tech from Andhra University (1994 to 1998). Overall 15 years of experience in Information Technology (Worked at Infosys Technologies, HSBC and Covansys), worked as Associate Professor at JNTU Hyderabad. I completed Certification Course such as Cyber Law Course at Indian Law Institute, New Delhi. I completed the Certification Course on Intellectual Property Law at FICCI New Delhi. My Foreign experience at Dell Computers, Bracknell City in the UK. Interested in law learning and My Interests include Human Rights, Taxation Law, Banking, Civil Law, Criminal Law, etc. I am interested in research laws and communicate with Supreme Court & High Court in the matter and publish online articles. I dealt grievances of citizen issues by way of filing PIL’s at Supreme Court and High Court. Written Articles to empower Women and low sections of society. My lifestyle of Kriya Yoga Meditation and spreading values of Yoga & Meditation at different sections of society. My Interests include playing Chess and won a few state-level chess tournaments.