‘Fix panchayat’s role in liquor shop sites’

The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to deliberate the issues pertaining to location of liquor shops and the role of local bodies like gram sabhas and panchayats in selecting site for locating them.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

Chennai

When a reference wasmade before it after differing views were rendered by a single judge and a division bench, the full bench comprising Chief JusticeAP Sahi, Justice CV Karthikeyan and Justice PD Audikesavalu, suggested the government to consider various provisions in Article 40, 47, 243-G and 243W of the Constitution while attempting to bring about any legislation, including the suggestions or the exercise of any functions of the local bodies onthe matter.

Also, making it clear that the issue assumes importance in the State as the government itself is the monopoly vendor, the bench observed, “Being a model State and a welfare State, it is all the more necessary that the State government should have deeper concerns about the health and social welfare of its citizens in the light of the obligations that have been cast upon the local bodies as also the State government itself while framing any laws on the subject matter.”

Regarding the right of any individual being curtailed to consume liquor at a particular place, the bench said, while undertaking any exercise the government should not only confine the deliberations on the issue of the regulatory measures defining the location of shop, but also about the right of any person as against the collective right of the society at large in matters of granting permission to consume liquor at any particular place.

The government pleader V Jayaprakashnarayanan submitted that as per Rule 8 of Tamil Nadu Liquor Vending Rules, no liquor shop would be permitted within 100 metres of religious places and educational institutions.

This rule was strictly followed while locating Tasmac shops, he said, adding that the Corporation had also issued circular wherein a direction was issued to the authorities stating that objections from villagers or grama sabha should be taken into consideration. The District Collectors were also directed to drop proposals that attracted local opposition.

The full bench granted time until February 20, and directed the government counsel to communicate the order to the Chief Secretary to coordinate and deliberate upon the matter with the other authorities, and file appropriate affidavit informing the outcome ofthe deliberations.

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