Karnataka HC turns down plea for keeping wine shops opened during lockdown period

South India

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna dismissed the petition saying there was no public interest involved in the petition. 

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday (April 7) dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to keep wine shops open for few hours in a day during the 21-day Coronavirus Lockdown period.

In a video conference hearing, a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna expressed that there is no public interest in the present petition as there is a large section of people deprived of the basic requirement of food right now.

At this point, petitioner Dr. Vinod Kulkarni informed the Court that he would withdraw the petition and donate Rs. 10,000 to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund set up for COVID-19 aid, said a Bar and Bench report.

Having accepted the withdrawal of the plea, the High Court did not pass an order on costs. It further directed Kulkarni to pay the donation and forward the receipt issued to the Registrar (Judicial) within two weeks.

The petition stated that during the lockdown, people were deprived of consuming alcohol in any form or quantity. It was further stated that social drinking has been in existence in India since time immemorial. In this regard, reliance was placed on Hindu scriptures that mentioned that people consumed Soma Rasa regularly.

"This somarasa is nothing but present day alcohol", the petition said adding, “Depriving of social drinkers of alcohol consumption tantamount to violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.A dignity of life includes social drinking alcohol too, in socially acceptable and limited quantities."

The petition also points out that sudden stoppage of alcohol is highly dangerous as it causes side effects such as mental depression, anxiety, hysterial outburts etc. The petition pointed out that many in Karnataka and other states like Kerala had committed suicide due to non-availability of alcohol.

The Kerala High Court recently stayed the government's decision to allow the supply of alcohol during the Coronavirus lockdown to those suffering from withdrawal on the basis of doctors’ prescription.

Image Credit: Metro Saga


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