Kerala high court thwarts govt plan to reopen liquor outlets along highway
The government was planning to reopen all the bars along the Kannur-Kuttipuram route by citing an earlier high court order, which stated that there was no problem with opening licensed liquor outlets on the stretch because its national highway status was annulled through a government notification.india Updated: Jun 06, 2017 19:36 IST
The Kerala high court on Tuesday thwarted an attempt by the state government to reopen bars closed in the wake of a Supreme Court order banning liquor outlets along national highways.
The court pulled up the government for trying to reopen liquor outlets by citing an earlier order delivered under a different context. It ordered the government to refrain from opening any bars until all the petitions in this regard are disposed of.
The government was planning to reopen all the bars along the Kannur-Kuttipuram route by citing an earlier high court order, which stated that there was no problem with opening licensed liquor outlets on the stretch because its national highway status was annulled through a government notification.
The court slammed the government for trying to reopen the liquor outlets by “misinterpreting” a previous order. The verdict was welcomed by the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council and main Opposition Congress.
Last week, the government had liberalised its liquor policy by taking away the power of local bodies to regulate the establishment of liquor outlets. Following this, the Congress and other Opposition parties called on governor P Sathasivam to petition against the dilution of the liquor policy.
The previous Congress-led United Democratic Front regime had made significant changes to the liquor policy, permitting only five-star hotels to serve Indian-made foreign liquor. This virtually led to the closure of 700 bars across the state. Later, a Supreme Court order on closing liquor shops along national highways forced many more to shut shop.
Last week, Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac admitted that the thriving tourism industry in the state was adversely affected by the liquor policy.