Fuming at the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation’s (TASMAC) decision to operate a wine shop in Kanyakumari district with police protection owing to protests from the people, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) has ordered closure of the liquor outlet.
To drive home the point against sale of liquor, a division bench quoting from an article penned by the eminent jurist Justice V R Krishna Iyer said: “All great men were free from alcoholism.From Vedanta to Islam and every faith which is committed to dignity, decency and sobriety has advocated this. If the elimination of poverty and bankruptcy will constitute patriotism, the highest priority to implementing this principle should be given to an absolute ban on alcoholism.”
The court made these observations while allowing a public interest litigation filed by CPM Kanyakumari district committee member Kanaga Bai challenging the functioning of a wine shop with police protection at Kollankodu Sangurity which comes under the jurisdiction of Adaikakuzhi Village Panchayat. The wine shop was set up ignoring local protests and a resolution passed by the panchayat opposing the liquor outlet.
Observing that the police protection given to the wine shop established that the people were not for the sale of liquor in the village, a bench comprising Justices Paul Vasantha Kumar and P Devadass said, “The action of the respondents in running the liquor shop with police protection reflects the attitude of the respondents in their determination to sell liquor at any cost.”
Citing constitutional provisions and judgments of apex court, the bench said that the resolution passed by the panchayat seeking not to grant nod to open the wine shop should be given due weightage.
According to the petitioner, following widespread protest, TASMAC authorities merely closed the shop for a day and reopened it with police protection and liquor was being sold till date.
In its counter, TASMAC officials contended that the wine shop was being run without hindrance to public strictly adhering to all rules.
Rejecting the argument, the judges ordered the immediate closure of the wine shop.