Let there be no more toddy in Kerala, the High Court said on Thursday.
“It’s high time the govt thought of discontinuing toddy business in the state to save people from the evils of alcohol and to prevent camouflaged sale of arrack and spurious liquor in the name of toddy,” the court said.
Like the prohibition of arrack, which was introduced in the state 16 years ago, the court hoped that the state government will take a bold decision to liberate emerging modern Kerala from the disgraceful business.
A Division Bench comprising Justice C N Ramachandran Nair and Bhabani Prasad Ray passed the order on a petition filed for granting licence for a toddy shop.
The Bench observed that under the label of toddy, spurious liquor was extensively sold in toddy shops.
“On account of non-availability of toddy, the govt permits sourcing and transport of toddy, mostly from Palakkad, bordering Tamil Nadu. It implied that artificially prepared spurious liquor with high alcohol is sold in toddy shops,” the court noted.
However in his report, the Excise Commissioner justified toddy business, stating that people should be provided liquor with low percentage of alcohol.
The court pointed out that newspapers occasionally publish photographs of people lying unconscious on the roadside near toddy shops. “It means the liquor served was not toddy as the maximum percentage of alcohol in toddy is 8,” it said.
The state said toddy ban would result in loss of employment of many workers.
When arrack was prohibited with no serious scheme for rehabilitation, except for a few employed in the Beverages Corporation, such a problem did not arise, the court replied.
However, the govt should conduct an audit of persons on rolls as toddy workers. The new generation was not taking up toddy tapping as a profession, the court noted.
Alcohol is not a compulsory part of the human diet and it is treated as a luxury which people with disposable income can afford, the court said.
As prohibition is a matter of state policy, it is up to the state government to take note of the views of the court and decide the matter at least for the next financial year, the court said.