India. Sale of parcelled beer uncorks legal issues in Kozhikode

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Despite the direction of the Excise Commissioner that buying bottled beer as takeaway parcels from licensed beer parlours will entail a legal liability on buyers and sellers, the sale of parcelled beer is rampant here.

A notice in front of a bar in Kozhikode | A Sanesh

To prevent hoarding of legally purchased liquor for illegal sale at inflated rates or consumption in public on dry days and after bar hours, the Excise commissioner had said that, if a person is caught carrying beer from wine and beer parlours, they would end up as a witness in the case slapped on the seller and the liquor they purchased confiscated as evidence. However, even after the Excise department started acting tough against the violators, the sale of parcelled beer has gone ‘uncontrolled’ over the counters.

As per FL 11 licence conditions, beer or wine bought over the counter from a parlour should be consumed in the parlour itself. Parcelling it and taking it outside the ‘permit room’ is illegal. The same law also applies to bars, now restricted to Five Star hotels, and select clubs.

Excise Deputy Commissioner P K Suresh, said: “We keep a tab on the movement of beer as takeaway parcels from the beer parlours and the situation has been under control. However, surveillance will be further strengthened ahead of the Onam festival”.

“In order to ensure that the bottles are not taken outside, we open the bottle at the counter itself. Some customers have picked up a quarrel with the  bar employees over the issue,” said an office-bearer with the Kerala Bar Hotel Association(KBHA). Meanwhile, he said that hoteliers are largely helpless in preventing customers from taking the bottles outside as parcels. “The customers pay money and buy bottled beer. It is not always possible for us to stop the customers at the door and snatch the bottles from them,” he said.