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Tamil Nadu Government moves Supreme Court against Madras HC’s order to close liquor outlets in the State

The Madras High Court had imposed several restrictions while allowing the sale of liquor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday

On Saturday, the Tamil Nadu Government has reportedly moved the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court’s interim decision to ban all liquor stores in light of the massive crowds and lack of social distancing in public spaces.

Petition by Tamil Nadu Government

The plea was filed by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC), a government-run firm that sells liquor in the State. The petition to the Supreme Court is premised on the fact that the State will suffer “grave losses” in terms of “revenue and commercial activity.” The petition argued that the decision to run a major commercial activity, through the sale of liquor, is the prerogative of the Government and not the Judiciary.

The State further stated that the ban on the local sale of liquor who make people flee to neighbouring states to procure it. Buyers living close by the borders have also travelled to Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where the liquor sale began one day before.

On Friday the Madras High Court had ordered the closure of liquor shops saying that there were huge crowds in front of the outlets and no social distancing was maintained. The court had only allowed doorstep delivery of booze through online mode.

Interim Order of the Madras High Court

Earlier the Madras High Court had allowed the sale of liquor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, but the court had imposed several restrictions. The court had said that an individual could only purchase alcohol twice a week with a minimum gap of three days in between. Furthermore, those paying online could purchase two bottles of 750 ml alcohol at a time while those paying through cash could purchase only one.

The High Court had also ordered that the name, address and Aadhar Card number of the buyer be recorded in the bill, essentially making Aadhar mandatory to buy liquor in the state. The High Court order came after a petition was filed by advocate G Rajesh and a complaint by Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), a party run by Kamal Haasan.

The High Court which on Wednesday allowed the sale of liquor in the State in accordance with the government order on May 5 observed on Friday, the blatant violation of lockdown and TASMAC norms.

Coronavirus Scare in Tamil Nadu

Sale of alcohol through state-run vendors began in Tamil Nadu on Thursday after a gap of 43 days, owing to the Coronavirus lockdown. Since buyers flouted social distancing guidelines, the Tamil Nadu government received backlash for its decision. It had also raised concerns about the potential spread of the deadly pathogen in the State that has reported more 6000 cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus.

Liquor Shops shut in East Delhi

On May 4, the Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police (Eastern Range) announced that all liquor shops that were operational for a few hours in East Delhi had to be shut down, owing to the violation of social distancing guidelines by people.

The cops had to resort to lathi-charge to tame unruly mobs in Laxmi Nagar, and Kashmere Gate areas area after people flouted social distancing rules since the sale of alcohol began at 10 am. Liquor shops had to be forced shut-in places such as Mayur Vihar and Krishna Nagar. Burari and Malviya Nagar also saw a footfall of massive crowds.

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