KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the deputy commissioners who renewed the beer and wine parlour licences of bars along the Kannur-Vengalam-Kuttipuram national highways to appear in person before the court on June 14 with the files relating to the renewal.
The court issued the order on a petition by Koyilandy municipality councillor V P Ibrahim Kutty seeking a review of the order to consider the bar owners’ claim the licences of bars along Thiruvananthapuram to Cherthala and Kannur-Vengalam-Kuttipuram National Highway be renewed. Ibrahim Kutty said the PWD Minister had clarified the roads were a part of the NH.
“Though the High Court directed the application of bar owners should only be considered, the government allowed them for continuing the business,” he said.
When the petition came up for hearing, the senior government pleader representing the PWD and Excise Department said licences of 13 bars along the Kannur-Kuttipuram stretch had been renewed. They included six bars in Kannur, three in Kozhikode and four in Malappuram. “But the government asked the bars to close down in the wake of the clarification order passed by the court the other day,” the pleader said.
The state said it had been sure the highway along Thiruvananthapuram-Cherthala stretch came under NH and so, accorded no fresh sanctions to bars. While there was some confusion over the status of the Kannur-Kuttipuram stretch, it was later clarified the roads continued to be NH as per a Centre’s notification.
The court said it only directed the Excise Department to consider the petitioners’ claims in the light of all the notifications and the order issued with respect to the NH. The authorities were obligated to clear any confusion with regard to the road’s status before rushing to renew the licences.
The High Court criticised Congress leader V M Sudheeran, one of the revision petitioners, for his statements on the issue, saying it would impact the dignity of the judicial institution. Sudheeran’s counsel said the leader had not blamed the court for passing the directive. Rather, he had criticised the dubious manner in which the petitioners had sought relief.
State govt’s view not sought: Excise Min
The government’s view was not sought by the HC when taking a decision on the Kannur-Vengalam-Kuttipuram NH stretch, Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan said on Wednesday. Addressing a presser here, he said the state government was not a party in the case. However, the government is duty-bound to obey the court.
PWD PS impleaded as additional respondent
The High Court also suo motu impleaded the PWD Principal Secretary as an additional respondent in the case and directed him to file an affidavit explaining whether the deputy commissioners concerned submitted any request seeking clarification with regard to the road’s status. The court also asked the Principal Secretary to state when the latter got to know the Kannur-Kuttipuram stretch was an NH.