1. To drink or not! Meet the rubber tapper who took the battle to court and challenged Kerala’s new liquor policy!

To drink or not! Meet the rubber tapper who took the battle to court and challenged Kerala’s new liquor policy!

A division bench of the Kerala High Court has delivered its verdict on a writ petition by a rubber tapper, challenging Kerala government's new liquor policy.

By: | New Delhi | Published: January 24, 2017 11:40 PM
The BIG question - is it your fundamental right to drink? (PTI) The BIG question – is it your fundamental right to drink? (PTI)

The BIG question – is it your fundamental right to drink? A division bench of the Kerala High Court has delivered its verdict on a writ petition by a rubber tapper, challenging Kerala government’s new liquor policy.

So, what exactly is this writ petition about?

A quick recap:

If you look forward to wrapping up your day with a small ”peg” as the Malayalis would call it at the end of the day, you’ve got to read about this rubber tapper who proudly declares that liquor is part of his daily diet and not just that, he has taken the battle to court by challenging Kerala government’s new liquor policy.

Anoop is a rubber tapper whose work begins as early as six in the morning and continues till about two in the afternoon. Liquor is his daily diet and it keeps him physically fit, he claims. He even cites that using liquor is an integral part of Kerala’s temple culture and Shakti worship. He says that drinking liquor is part of his right to life – yes, that is what keeps him alive and kicking especially when he goes rubber tapping! What’s more, he says that the new liquor law prohibiting him from drinking violates his right to life, which is guaranteed to every citizen!

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What Anoop does not cite is about the dangerously high level of alcohol consumption in God’s Own Country. In 2013, Kerala registered the highest alcohol consumption rate per person: 8.3 litres and the state also accounted for 16% of the total national alcohol sales.

With the Kerala government passing a new liquor policy in 2014-15, Anoop has no other option but to buy his ‘daily diet’ from government outlets and it costs him more and he decided to seek ‘justice’ by filing a petition to have the new policy quashed!

These are some of the questions that the Kerala High Court examined while delivering the judgment:

Does the new Liquor Policy infringe Anoop’s right to privacy or right to life?

Does the Executive have the power to bring about the policy of regulating or prohibiting liquor in the state?

Is the right to choose alcohol a fundamental right in the nature of right to choose or right to privacy under Art 21 of the Constitution?

What is today morally reprehensible and socially unacceptable may not be so tomorrow – this was observed by the Kerala High Court in its judgment, stating, “The appellant, may still have hope, but he seems to have raised his voice rather prematurely.”

Now here’s comes the conclusion of the order – it wraps up with Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s lyrics,

“And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changing’

The times are definitely changing, so are the tone and tenor of court judgments!

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