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Kerala bars lose SC battle, only 5-star hotels can serve liquor


The Supreme Court has upheld the the Kerala government’s liquor policy restricting sale of liquor to five-star hotels.

The apex court dismissed a batch of petitions filed by hotel bars association challenging the new excise policy which prohibits the sale of liquor and three or four star hotels. The court said the bars that were closed down in the state will not be reopened.

Kerala government welcomed the verdict. “We are happy with the verdict, it will reduce alcoholism in the state,” said K Babu, excise minister, Kerala.

The policy decision had led to the ouster of finance minister K M Mani from the cabinet over allegations of accepting bribe to reopen the bars that were shut down after the implementation of liquor policy.

The judgment was reserved on August 27 after long arguments spread over many days wherein the Kerala government, defending its policy, had said that those ousted from the business had no fundamental right to continue selling liquor at the bar.

The liquor policy restricting the sale and consumption of liquor at the bar benefitted 24 five-star hotels in the state and it was upheld by the Kerala High Court on March 31 this year.

The high court by its March 31 order had upheld the policy, terming drinking at bar a luxury.

Defending the ban on the service of liquor at the bar below the five star hotels, Kerala government had contended that the liquor was available on the retail outlets and people can buy and drink at their homes. The state government had told the court that drinking at home in the family with wife and children present was discouraging.

The apex court on September 11, 2014, had asked Kerala High Court to decide the challenge to the notification directing the bar owners below the five star hotels to shut their business. The high court by its March 31 order had upheld the policy, terming drinking at bar a luxury.

Source: Times of India

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