CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday refused to prohibit TASMAC from selling liquor, holding that it cannot intervene in policy matters.
“Unfortunately this is a decision on which court’s opinion cannot be called for,” said the first bench comprising Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice TS Sivagnanam while closing the public interest litigation moved by a journalist. “It is a policy decision taken by the State government and the State legislature,” the bench pointed out.
Citing Article 47 of the Constitution which speaks about the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, the petitioner argued that under the article, “it is the duty of the State to bring about prohibition.” But contravening the constitutional mandate, the Tamil Nadu government came up with TN Liquor Retail Vending (in shops and bars) Rules, 2003, enabling TASMAC to sell liquor through its retail outlets, the petitioner said, seeking the court to strike down the rule as against the Constitution of India, particularly against Article 47.
Responding to the petition, government pleader submitted that the State is continuously discouraging consumption of alcohol. “The tax on liquor in TN is highest in the country. The number of retail outlets which were 7,800 in 2003 has been reduced to 6,800 in 2015. That apart, working hours of the shops which was earlier from 8 am to 12 pm has been reduced to 10 am to 10 pm,” he added.
Recording the submissions, the bench said, “We are of the view that the court cannot really issue any direction in the matter,” and closed the writ petition.