THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The one-month stay slapped by the High Court Division Bench on Thursday’s Single Bench order banning bars having classification below four stars is yet another proof of the State Government’s failure to properly address the bar issue, anti-liquor organisations alleged on Friday.
“That the government has not been attentive enough in the liquor issue is evident in Friday’s Division Bench order.
If Excise Minister K Babu had been sincere enough, he would have said that the government would have appealed against Thursday’s order,” Fr T J Antony, state general secretary, KCBC Madhya Virudha Samithi, said.
“The government is creating the impression that the Court is responsible for everything related to the bars. The government is trying to fool the people,” Fr Antony said.
The High Court has not objected to the government’s liquor policy in toto, but technical lapses on the government’s part has caused certain setbacks, J M Rahim, secretary, Madhya Virudha Janakeeya Munnani, said. “The court has not objected to the government’s plan for a total liquor ban, which can be achieved if the government moves ahead cautiously,” he said.
Following Thursday’s Single Bench order, Excise Minister Babu had ordered Excise officials to close down two and three star bars on Friday itself. In fact, on Friday, Excise officials had sealed the liquor stock in bars. As many as 250 bars falling into the two categories lay closed for nearly 10 hours.
Excise Commissioner Anil Xavier, on receiving a copy of the High Court stay later in the day, had then issued orders to break the seals. Several bars started functioning by Friday evening, but many chose to remain closed over the weekend as Saturday, the first of the month, and Sunday, are dry days. Also, fearing an unfavourable court decision on Friday, most bars had kept less stock than was usual.
Of the 730 bars in the state, 418 have been lying closed since April after the government declared them sub-standard.