Bombay HC Permits Sale Of Liquor In Mumbai After Announcement Of LS Poll Results On June 4

Bombay HC Permits Sale Of Liquor In Mumbai After Announcement Of LS Poll Results On June 4

The HC was hearing two petitions by the Association of Owners of Hotels, Restaurants, Permit Rooms and Bars (AHAR) challenging the orders passed by the Mumbai city and suburban collectors declaring June 4, vote-count day, as a 'dry day'.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, May 24, 2024, 06:32 PM IST
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Bombay HC | File

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday permitted sale, distribution and consumption of liquor in Mumbai city after the declaration of the Lok Sabha poll results on June 4. A vacation bench of Justices Nitin Borkar and Somasekhar Sundaresan said the ban imposed by the city Collector on sale of liquor by hotels, restaurants, bars and permit rooms “shall cease to have an effect” upon declaration of the results of elections in the city of Mumbai.

Additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan informed the bench that the Collector for Mumbai suburban district has already issued a letter modifying the earlier notification declaring the entire June 4 as a dry day.

Chavan added that the Collector of Mumbai city said that the order was issued pursuant to directions of the Election Commission of India (ECI). Hence, no such modification has been issued by the Mumbai city collector.

In a lighter vein, Justice Somasekhar said: “So suburbs can drink, beyond Bandra.” The judges however, said there needs to be a parity. “Let's work it out. There has to be some parity,” the bench said.

The HC was hearing two petitions by the Association of Owners of Hotels, Restaurants, Permit Rooms and Bars (AHAR) challenging the orders passed by the Mumbai city and suburban collectors declaring June 4, vote-count day, as a 'dry day'. They contended that sale of liquor should be permitted once election results are declared.

Their advocate Veena Thadani said in April end, they had approached the collectors, urging them to review their decision of announcing the entire day as dry day. However, they were later informed that their decision was based on the directions of the ECI hence they could do nothing. As per the ECI directions, sale of liquor is prohibited and dry day is declared 48 hours before voting day and on the day of counting.

The petition underlined that while AHAR members pay huge amounts as licence fee to the state government for carrying on their business, there are several illicit liquor manufacturers and bootleggers operating in Mumbai. Whenever, the authorised outlets for sale of liquor are closed, such illegal businesses thrive and bootleggers make huge profits through the sale of illicit liquor, the petition asserted.

The court noted the corrigendum by the suburban collector modifying the condition of the dry day on June 4. As far as Mumbai city is concerned, the HC passed an order permitting sale, distribution and consumption of liquor once the election results were declared. The court relied on a similar order by another HC bench which permitted sale of liquor in the Ratnagiri district after declaration of election results.

“This petition seeks extension of earlier order passed by another division bench of this HC on May 3 (with regard to Raigad district) regarding cessation of restriction on sale, distribution and consumption of alcohol in city of Mumbai,” the bench said.

It added: “In line with aforesaid order, it would be appropriate to direct that restriction on sale, distribution and consumption of alcohol will cease to have an effect upon declaration of results of elections in the city of Mumbai.”

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