KOCHI: The State Government will file a counter affidavit before the Kerala High Court on Tuesday, justifying its new ‘abkari’ policy and the decision to shut down all the bars, except those under the five-star category.
The counter affidavit will be filed before the Single Bench, while considering a batch of petitions filed by bar owners who challenged the new abkari policy.
The government had decided to shut down the 312 bars currently functioning in the State, and not to renew the licences of the 418 non-standard bars. As per the new abkari policy, starting October 2, 2014, 10 percent of the outlets of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation and the ConsumerFed will be closed every year. As many as 34 of the 318 Beverages Corporation outlets, and 5 of the 44 ConsumerFed outlets will be closed this year.
The government will inform the court that no one has the fundamental right to sell liquor in the State. According to the government, it granted permission for the provisional renewal of the FL3 licences of the existing bars, except the 418 non-standard hotels, as an interim arrangement.
With the closure of the bars, the government will incur a huge loss. However, the government has decided to impose ban on liquor in a phased manner. The bar owners are challenging the new abkari policy, alleging discrimination as the government has given permission for five-star bars and state-owned liquor outlets to function. In the affidavit, the government will state it had granted bar licence to five-star hotels by adhering to the guidelines and rules set by the Central Government.
Meanwhile, the Advocate General has suggested that the government bring Kapil Sibal to appear before the High Court in the cases for State Government.
The Single Bench will consider the case on September 18. Sources said that Sibal would not appear for the State on that day, and that he would represent the State at the time of the final hearing of the petitions.
Meanwhile, the bar owners have decided to bring senior Supreme Court lawyers to defend the State Government in the High court.