Maharashtra assembly election 2019: HC allows Mumbai liquor shops to open on evening of counting day
The Bombay high court has allowed liquor shops to open at 6pm on October 24, when votes cast for the Maharashtra assembly elections will be counted.
Justice Ujjal Bhuyan allowed these shops to be opened at 6pm on the counting day, but refused to interfere with the collector’s order directing closure of such shops on and before the polling day on October 21.
Justice Bhuyan’s order on Friday came in view of Section 135C of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951.
Section 135C of the act specifically prohibits selling or distributing liquor on polling day. The section states that no spirituous, fermented or intoxicating liquors or other substances of a like nature shall be sold, given or distributed within a polling area during 48 hours ending with the poll’s conclusion.
The reprieve came on a petition filed by the Maharashtra Wine Merchants Association, which moved the high court challenging the October 4, 2019, order of Mumbai’s district collector, who is the licensing authority.
The order had asked owners to keep all country liquor, foreign liquor and toddy shops closed from 6pm onwards on October 19, the entire day on October 20 and till the voting process was completed on October 21.
It had also challenged the district collector’s order to keep all the wine shops closed for entire day on October 24 when votes are scheduled to be counted, while in many other districts wine shops were allowed to reopen at 6pm on the counting day.
The association challenged the decision contending that it was an arbitrary order and infringed fundamental right of the wine shop owners to carry on the business of their choice, guaranteed by Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
It complained that the decision would cause huge loss to wine shop owners, as it mandated to keep the shops spread over entire Mumbai closed for three consecutive days.