The Bihar government on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court’s Friday order that scrapped the Nitish Kumar government’s decision banning sale of liquor in the state. A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur posted the matter for hearing on Friday.
Terming the notification unconstitutional, draconian and unwarranted in a civilised society, the HC had struck down the Bihar government’s April 5 notification banning sale of liquor in the state.
In its appeal, the Bihar government said the HC had failed to consider whether the state can prohibit distribution and sale of liquor and whether the individual citizen can claim right to consume liquor as a fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“The consequence of the impugned judgment is that the bona fide efforts of the petitioners to bring complete prohibition of liquor in the state in performance of its Constitutional obligations as cast under Article 47 of the Directive Principle of State Policy has been frustrated,” the appeal filed through counsel Keshav Mohan said.
According to the state government, while declaring Section 19(4) of the Bihar Excise Act, 1915, and the impugned notification ultra vires, the HC did not give due weightage to the fact that the Bihar government while issuing the impugned notification had taken various measures so as to protect the interest of manufacturers and others.
In order to compensate the manufacturers and suppliers of their losses, the petition stated that the state government has not prohibited manufacturing and bottling of liquor in the state. It had even provided complete exemption of the export duty on ethanol and ENA produced by the distilleries and breweries along with the refund of their various licence fees deposited by them except the licence fees concerning the manufacturing activities, it added.
“So far as the licensee fees of bar and restaurant owners are concerned, the state government has committed to purchasing all their stocks at the same rate on which it was sold to them and further committed to refund their licence fees,” it added. Mohan said the ban on liquor and consumption of liquor in Bihar is in public interest and appreciated by a large number of people, especially women, as consumption drains family incomes, entails debts and is bad for health.