The Kerala High Court on Thursday said it was only concerned with ensuring that the next generation does not have to stand in the long queues outside liquor outlets and has neither permitted nor restricted the government in any manner with regard to the proposal to increase the number of such shops in the state.
“We have to save the next generation. I do not want them to stand in queues like this,” Justice Devan Ramachandran said and added that is why he was repeatedly telling the government to have a walk-in facility at liquor shops.
“We cannot have people standing in long queues outside liquor shops and creating a ruckus there, making it impossible for people — especially women and children — to pass by such places,” the court said.
The court also disposed of two revision petitions, one among them by senior Congress leader and former Kerala Assembly Speaker V M Sudheeran, opposing the enhancement of liquor outlets in the state as suggested by the Excise Commissionerate and Beverages Corporation (BEVCO).
The two petitions had contended that the high court’s 2017 judgement, directing the state government and BEVCO to ensure no nuisance is caused to businesses and residents of an area outside liquor shops, was being interpreted in a different manner to increase the number of such outlets in the state.
The court, however, said that the two pleas were not maintainable.
It also said that in the four years since the judgement and when there was overcrowding outside liquor shops during COVID-19, no one came to court.
However, now when only a proposal has been mooted, people were coming forward with review petitions, the court said.
It further noted that the two pleas, while claiming to seek a review of the 2017 judgement, were actually supporting it.
Sudheeran, in his plea filed through advocate Kaleeswaram Raj, had claimed that increasing the number of liquor outlets would increase the nuisance caused to the public at large by such shops.
The suggestion for enhancing the liquor outlets in the state by 175 more was mooted during the hearing on November 9 of a contempt plea which was filed claiming non-compliance of its 2017 judgement.
The Excise Commissionerate and state-run Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) had told the court on November 9 that sanctioning more outlets could ease the pressure on the existing 306 licensed liquor shops.
They had said that while in Kerala there was only one liquor outlet for 1.12 lakh people, in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana the ratio was much less as there were thousands of shops there which sell alcohol.