SC upholds Kerala govt’s decision to close down bars

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In a big blow to bar owners in Kerala, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Kerala government’s decision to ban the sale of liquor from bars across the state and allow it to be served only in five star hotels.

The apex court passed the order on the petitions by Kerala bar owners, who had challenged the liquor policy claiming it to be discriminatory.

Kerala bar owners have challenged the High Court order upholding the state government’s liquor policy. Last year, the government implemented a new policy intended to reduce liquor consumption in the state.

Incidentally, the central government’s top legal mind and Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi, was representing the bar association.

Reacting to the SC’s decision, senior BJP lawyer, Subramanian Swamy demanded the sacking of Rohatgi.

He tweeted, “SC upholds Kerala liquor ban. Happy. But unhappy that Attorney General defended the Liquor Barons in the case. Time for a new AG.”

Rohatgi’s decision to represent Bar Association while being the central government’s Attorney General, had drawn flak in the past.

Channithala told reporters, “The AG should have behaved sensibly. He should  withdraw his decision. The AG should never take a stance against the interests of the state. This doesn’t go well with the federal structure of our country.”

The state government had officially protested against the AG appearing for the bar owners.

A statement from chief minister’s office in July had said,  “It is indeed shocking that the Attorney General did so after obtaining permission from the Union government, hence, the prime minister has to clarify his stand on the matter.”

The state government’s decision to confine the sale of alcohol only to five star hotels is a part of its policy to make Kerala a liquor-free state by 2023.

Kerala High Court, in October last year, had upheld the the state government’s decision to close down more than 700 bars, but had exempted heritage and five-star hotels.

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