NEW DELHI: Terming the state government’s new liquor policy as impractical, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the government’s appeal against the Kerala High Court order to grant licences to 10 bar hotels, including nine three-star and one four-star classification. It questioned the logic behind the new policy categorising bar hotels as five-star, four-star and three star hotels for issuing bar licences.
Questioning the policy, the government said: “How can they discriminate against business establishments while implementing a policy.”
The court ordered to issue licences to 10 bar hotels immediately. It also declined to stay the contempt of court proceedings against the Excise Commissioner and Taxes Secretary for not complying with the High Court order asking to grant licences.
The High Court had asked the Excise Commissioner to grant the licences to petitioners on or before December 23.
It had held that the bars are entitled to get the licences renewed and directed the state to receive the application for renewal of licences along with the proportionate licence fee and pass orders renewing the licences. Later, the government approached the Division Bench seeking to stay the order of the Single Judge. However, the Division Bench declined to stay the order and adjourned the hearing of the case.
The Supreme Court, while making it clear that the state government could submit its plea before the Division Bench during the final hearing, directed the state to grant licences to 10 hotels. What prevented the state government from issuing licence to three and four-star hotels if the same licence could be granted to five-star hotels, the court asked.
“The government can approach the High Court, but only after implementing its earlier order. There is something more to comment against the government’s liquor policy but at this moment we purposefully abstaining from it,’’ the judges said while dismissing the government’s plea.