Tamil Nadu moves Supreme Court against high court order to close Tasmac liquor shops

South India
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A day after the Madras High Court ordered immediate closure of all state-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor shops till May 17, the state government moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on it.

In the appeal filed on Saturday, TASMAC has submitted that the net effect of the high court’s order is a "complete and indefinite standstill of the sale of liquor in the State leading to grave losses to the State’s revenue and commercial activity in the State.

This order has been challenged as factually untenable and legally unsustainable given that, the Supreme Court itself has declined to entertain a plea for the total ban on the sale of liquor as the same is a policy matter within the domain of State.

The TASMAC has argued that this closure order was passed on a misinterpretation of an order of the Supreme Court on Friday, wherein it had urged the State governments to consider non-direct sale including online sale/home delivery of liquor. The TASMAC contends that the Supreme Court had thereby, "recognised that States have a broad margin of power to determine whether and how to effect sales of liquor in this lockdown period."

The Madras high court order was passed after the Court was appraised of large-scale violations of the guidelines issued by the State as well as the High Court on May 7 to be followed during the sale of alcohol during this time.

Apart from the precautionary directions concerning social distancing, sanitisation etc. issued by the State, on May 7 the High Court had also issued guidelines concerning, inter alia, limits of alcohol purchase per person per day.

Friday’s development came two days after the High Court ordered in favour of opening the shops in a case filed against the state government’s decision to open the shops. The court reversed the stand after watching video clips of TASMAC shops from last two days and agreed with the petitioners that the Union Home Ministry guidelines for liquor shops had gone for a toss (with inputs from agencies).

Image Credit: Hindu Businessline  

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