India. HC orders closure of liquor shop

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The Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday directed Tirunelveli Collector and Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) to permanently close down a liquor shop at Kalingapatti, the native of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko.

A Division Bench of Justices S. Nagamuthu and M.V. Muralidaran passed the order while allowing a public interest litigation petition, filed by Vaiko’s younger brother and Kalingapatti panchayat president V. Ravichandran, challenging the Collector’s refusal to close down the shop permanently.

The judges wondered how could the official have gone to the extent of cancelling a resolution passed by the panchayat last year, demanding immediate closure of the shop, without issuing notice to the office-bearers and conducting an inquiry under the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994.

“Of course, it is true that the shop has not violated the distance rule, but the crux of the arguments advanced by the petitioner is that the present location causes nuisance. “We find force in the arguments. It is common knowledge that those under the influence of alcohol would lose control of their senses and their disorderly behaviour is undoubtedly a nuisance…

Therefore, we have every reason to hold that the location of the shop violates the right to decent life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the judges said. Although the officials had contended that the petitioner and his brother had begun demanding closure of the shop because of political motives and that there had not been any complaint of nuisance near the shop, the judges said that failure to lodge complaints need not necessarily mean that there was no nuisance at all.

On the contention of a Government Advocate that the protesters had ransacked the shop and damaged goods worth over Rs.7 lakh and therefore they were not liable to maintain the present petition, the judges said they did not want to express any opinion on that allegation since the petitioner had denied it and it was a matter to be investigated by the police.

Reacting to the verdict, Mr Vaiko said his late mother, who led the protest demanding closure of the liquor shop, would rest in peace as the High Court had decided in favour of its closure.