KOCHI: Expressing concern over heavy rush of people outside Bevco outlets even amid the surge in Covid cases, the High Court directed the Excise Commissioner to appear in person for the virtual hearing on Thursday. The court said the serpentine queues in front of liquor shops and retail outlets of Bevco can potentially trigger another Covid wave.
Justice Devan Ramachandran issued the order on a petition filed by Hindustan Paints seeking contempt of court action against S Ananthakrishnan, Excise Commissioner, and Sparjan Kumar, Managing Director, Bevco, for not implementing the order of the court issued in 2017.
The High Court had directed Bevco to ensure that no nuisance is caused to the public on account of its outlets. The present practice being followed by KSBC in barricading the outlet and making the customer stand outside and buy liquor must be stopped and an adequate waiting area must be provided for people coming to buy liquor inside the shop premises.
The dignity of the person coming to buy liquor, the free ingress and egress to the residents of the area, preventing nuisance by orderly parking vehicles are all things to be taken note of and strict action must be taken by the Excise authorities, the court said. Santhosh Mathew, counsel for the petitioner submitted that despite the court order, no action has been taken by the authorities.
The court observed that the allegations are very serious and asked all officers concerned to be present through video conferencing.The court rejected the request of the government pleader to avoid the presence of the Excise Commissioner.
HEALTH MORE IMPORTANT THAN REVENUE, SAYS COURT
Observing that health is more important than revenue, the High Court said crowding at public places, more particularly in liquor shops, should not be allowed. The bench headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar observed that Kerala currently has the highest number of Covid cases. The bench further observed that even though periodical orders are issued by the Central and state governments regarding Covid protocols, they do not seem to be observed in letter and spirit at some places, especially liquor shops. “We find that no action is taken against the defaulters so far,” observed the bench.