Supreme Court stays Madras HC orders to close Liquor shops in Tamil Nadu

South India

The apex court order is expected to pave way for the reopening of liquor shops run by TASMAC in Tamilnadu.

The Supreme Court on Friday (May 15) issued an interim stay on all orders of the Madras High Court concerning the closure of liquor shops run by TASMAC in Tamil Nadu amid the COVID-19 lockdown, including the orders on additional conditions for the sale of liquor that were imposed by the High Court on May 6.

Hearing a batch of petitions challenging two orders of the high court, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, L Nageswara Rao, and BR Gavai observed that the Court may only ask the State to consider modalities for sale of liquor through online means and to consider home delivery. However the ultimate decision on how the sale has to be made remains on the State.

The court has also issued notice in the matter and has sought a reply on the same within four weeks.

The Madras High Court order on 8 May directed to close liquor shops in Tamilnadu, with immediate effect, to enforce social distancing till the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted or modified.

TASMAC on Thursday informed the Madras High Court that it would restrict the liquor sale to 500 people per day at each outlet and assured that only 70 people would be allowed per hour in order to avoid crowding and maintain social distancing.

In its counter in the Supreme Court, TASMAC contended that the division bench was wrong in passing the interim order as the apex court had already refused to stay functioning of liquor shops during lockdown.

Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi arguing for the State of Tamil Nadu questioned how the High Court could have delved into the domain of policy by imposing additional conditions for the sale and purchase of liquor in the State.

Referring to conditions imposed by the High Court such as digital payment and requirement of Aadhaar card for the sale of liquor, Rohatgi said that it should be up to the State to decide how the sale has to be made (with inputs from Bar & Bench)


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