Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday hit out at the Centre for allowing the attorney general to appear on behalf of bar owners in a case against the state government.
Chandy said it was unethical that A-G Mukul Rohatgi appeared in the Supreme Court for the bar owner's petition challenging Kerala's new liqour policy.
"What's more surprising is that the Attorney General appeared after taking permission of the Centre, and the state government went ahead with a new liquor policy as part of its social commitment and responsibility," a statement from his office said.
The Kerala CM said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify his stand on the matter.
"This is unfortunate. The decision taken by the Kerala government is non political. We expect full support from central government to eradicate the evil of liquor, but this is not happening," he said.
The new liquor policy of the Kerala government aims at a phased prohibition with only 24 five-star hotels in the state allowed to serve hard liquor. All other hotels including two, three and four-star ones have permission to serve only beer and wine.
The state unit of the BJP also expressed displeasure over the conduct of the attorney general in the case.
"We have already brought this to the attention of the Union law minister Sadananda Gowda and he has assured us that he will look into the issue. Even though the attorney general sought permission to appear, there's a moral issue in it and he should not have done it," state BJP leader K Surendran said.
A-G Rohatgi reportedly played down the controversy saying he appeared for the bar owners in the SC of Friday in his personal capacity.
"Four star bar owners in Kerala are my old clients. They wanted my help. Why is the government of Kerala afraid of a lawyer? If I had not appeared, some else would have appeared," Rohatgi told NDTV.
Law minister Gowda too reportedly said there was nothing wrong in the A-G appearing in the case as it was not against the Union government.
(With inputs from agencies)