Mumbai: The Bombay High Court recently directed that the prohibitory ban imposed on liquor sale in Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Nashik districts during elections for Maharashtra Legislative Council seats for graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies shall be restricted to January 30 only, the election day. The government had imposed a ban for three days -- from 4.00pm January 28 to 4.00pm January 31.
Justice Milind Jadhav observed, "Imposing a prohibitory ban for a long period on merchant establishments and establishments which provide livelihood is contrary to principles under Article 21 of the Constitution and whenever such a thing happens, the authorities need to be thoughtful.”
The HC was hearing two petitions filed by the All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA) challenging the ban on the sale of liquor in Nashik on Jan 30 and the Association of Progressive Retail Liquor Vendors (APRLV) challenging the ban in Thane, Palghar and Raigad.
The pleas contended that the election is held for the graduates’ constituencies and the voters’ list was very restrictive and only contained graduates who had registered for voting. Therefore, imposing the prohibitory ban for four days would adversely affect the livelihood and business of the petitioners, the lawyers submitted. The petitioners also pointed out earlier HC orders in other petitions where similar orders were passed by authorities and they were curtailed and restricted only to the date of voting.
The government pleader contended that earlier the government had proposed to impose prohibition for four days, but the authorities restricted the same to three days and exempted the date of counting.
After going through the earlier HC orders, Justice Jadhav noted that the courts were constrained to pass orders against the authorities. “I am of the view that the interest of justice would be served if the prohibition imposed by the respondents is restricted to only the date of voting, that is January 30,” the judge observed.
The court observed, “The aforementioned issue is a recurring issue and therefore, the State Government is directed to take note of the same. The present elections are not Parliamentary elections and the yardstick applicable to those elections cannot be applied to elections for graduate constituencies.”
The HC has asked the government to file a detailed affidavit within four weeks and kept the matter for hearing on February 22.
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