KOCHI: Censuring the Kerala government, the High Court on Tuesday said liquor outlets along the highways in the state should remain closed. The HC said liquor vends should not be reopened along the Thiruvananthapuram-Cherthala and Kannur-Vengalam-Kuttipuram stretches.
Telling the government “not to shoot off the court’s shoulder”, the HC said a portion of its judgment was culled out and misconstrued to give it a feeling that it was intended to grant permission to reopen bars. The court asked the parties concerned to wait until a further order.
“If the minister (G Sudhakaran) and the authority concerned feel the T’Puram-Cherthala and Kannur-Vengalam-Kuttipuram stretches are part of the National Highway, then why did the Excise Department renew the licence? There was no direction to open bars.
The court only directed the Deputy Commissioners of Excise to consider the claim of the petitioners to continue to vend liquor based on the renewed licences they are holding strictly in accordance with the parameters set forth in V K Balu case,” said the court.
The HC maintained it had not ruled the roads in question were not National Highways. The court said it found substance only in the argument of the petitioners based on the notification issued on August 2014 which stated the stretches were no longer NH/state highways.
The state government submitted it acted as per the remarks in paragraph 6 of the judgment issued on May 16. “I find considerable force in the submissions of the petitioners. The notification irrefragably indicated the roads, are no longer a national/state highways... and I am sure the rigour of the directions of the Supreme Court will not be applicable to the road,” the court’s order read.
“If there is any mistake in the judgment, the government pleader could have informed the court on the very same day. But they failed to do so.”
The court issued the order on the petition filed by V P Ibrahim Kutty, Councillor of Koyilandy municipality, seeking to review the order. The court also struck down the allegation of V M Sudheeran. In his Facebook post, the veteran Congress leader had termed the judgment “mysterious” and “unfortunate.”