The Bombay high court has said no person has a fundamental right to trade in liquor, while upholding the state government’s policy decision to ban manufacturing of milder rum and instead permit only stronger forms of the alcoholic drink.
A division bench dismissed a petition filed by Hindustan Distilleries, challenging the August 2006 decision of the government to not permit rum of 50 Under Proof (UP) strength and allow production of rum of 25 UP strength, which is a stronger version of the drink. UP or Under Proof is a measure of ethanol contained in an alcoholic beverage.
Hindustan Distilleries had challenged the 2006 amendment to the Maharashtra Distillation of Spirit and Manufacture of Potable Liquor Rules which prohibited the manufacture of Rum of 50 UP, a milder version.
It contended that the Constitution of India requires the government to implement the policy of prohibition of liquor, but since the government was allowing production of stronger alcoholic beverages and prohibiting manufacturing of its milder forms, the action amounted to violation of the constitutional mandate.
The government submitted that the revenue generated from India Manufactured Foreign Liquor of 50 UP was meager, as compared to earnings from sale of 25 UP variants. Noting that the reasons cited by the government were relevant, the division bench turned down the challenge. The bench noted that the court has held that there is no fundamental right in a citizen to carry on trade in liquor.