With the relaxation in the lockdown allowing for sale of liquor polarising opinions, the Supreme Court entered the debate, refusing to stall the sale of alcohol and also asking states to consider online sales and home-delivery.
The SC was hearing a PIL seeking a MHA order directing to stay the operation of liquor vends due to the health risks posed by crowds gathering. With the relaxation allowing alcohol sale, video and images of massive crowds thronging outside liquor vends had gone viral on social media.
The petitioner raised the concern that such large crowds outside liquor stores were a rampant abuse of social distancing norms. The petitioner had argued that such large crowds would be fertile grounds for spread of the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
The petitioner had sought a clarification from the Ministry of Home Affairs restraining the sale of liquor. The petitioner had also requested the SC to ensure that such a clarification -- staying alcohol sale -- would be followed by the states.
The court, however, did not agree. Not only did the Supreme Court refuse to stall the sale of liquor, the top court also suggested alternatives.
The SC observed that there was already an ongoing discussion to consider home-delivery and online sales. The SC observed that if combating crowds was a concern, the states could do well to consider alternate approaches such as home-delivery and online sale of liquor.
Liquor sales are a key source of revenue for various state governments. For 2019-20, the 29 states along with Delhi and Puducherry had excise revenue of over Rs 1.75 lakh crore for liquor sales.
First Published: IST