State can't stop us from drinking alcohol in our homes: PILs in Gujarat high court on liquor prohibition

The Gujarat High Court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging prohibition on manufacture, sale and consumption of liquor in the state vide the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949, on grounds of 'manifest arbitrariness' and violation of 'right to privacy'.

According to LiveLaw, responding to the preliminary objections raised by State, Senior Advocate Mihir Thakore today argued that the challenge to the legislation before the Supreme Court was only to the limited extent of medicinal and toilet preparation.

Advocate General Kamal Trivedi on Monday argued that the petition is not maintainable inasmuch as the issue called into question has already been settled by the Supreme Court in State of Bombay & Anr. v. FN Balsara where validity of the 1949 Act was upheld.

He argued that emergence of a new ground for challenge cannot be the basis for disputing the sanctity of the Supreme Court judgment.

Thakore has argued that the question of validity of prohibiting consumption of alcohol was not decided by the Supreme Court and it is in this context that the Gujarat High Court is competent to adjudicate.

Advocate Mihir Joshi linked the right to privacy with the citizens' right to eat and drink as per their choice and remarked, "What's to stop the State from coming into our homes and saying, no non-veg from tomorrow?"

Thakore stated that several provisions that the Petitioners have challenged were not called into question before the Supreme Court. Some provisions whose validity was decided by the Supreme Court in 1951 have been "materially amended" since and and certain provisions have been added by way of subsequent amendments.

Advocate Mihir Joshi argued that their challenge is principally based on Right of privacy, which given voice by the Supreme Court in 2017 in Puttaswamy judgment. Joshi further said that the objection raised by the State cannot even be called a preliminary objection and the same should be decided while hearing the case.

However, the Bench said that it has heard the counsels at length and it will first decide whether preliminary objections are sustained or not, before proceeding further.

The matter is kept for hearing counter-arguments tomorrow.

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