Significantly, with liquor stores now allowed to open from Thursday, the court directed that an individual may be sold liquor only once in three days.

Liquor only once in 3 days per individual Madras HC allows TASMAC to reopenPTI photo
Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, May 06, 2020 - 23:07

The Madras High Court on Wednesday permitted the opening of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor shops, albeit with some restrictions, from Thursday. The shops, which had been closed to contain the spread of coronavirus, are set to open on Thursday, except in Chennai and a few neighbouring districts.

A division Bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana directed the state to ensure that only one bottle (750 ml) is sold by TASMAC for those paying at the counter. Two bottles (750 ml each) may be sold for those who paid online.

The court asked the state to encourage digital payments so as to minimise cash transactions. 

A digital bill is mandatory with details of the buyer including their name, address and Aadhaar number, the High Court reportedly said.

Significantly, with liquor stores now allowed to open from Thursday, the court directed that an individual may be sold liquor only once in three days.

The restriction on tipplers consuming liquor at bars, however, continues to stay in place.

The court threatened to direct closure of TASMACs if precautions are not followed and social distancing norms are flouted.

According to the government’s rules, a customer aged above 50 can purchase from TASMAC outlets between 10 am and 1 pm while a customer between 40 and 50 years can buy between 1 pm and 3 pm. Buyers below 40 can get the alcohol from 3 pm to 5 pm.

The High Court has sought a status report from the state government on precautionary measures taken ahead of reopening the TASMAC shops. 

Seeking a ban on the state government's decision to open TASMAC shops, advocate Ramkumar Adithan from Tiruchendur filed a PIL in the Madras High Court. The plea came up for hearing on Wednesday. The case was adjourned for further hearing to May 14.

A day ahead of opening the TASMAC shops, the Tamil Nadu government hiked the excise duty on liquor by 15%. As per the hike, normal brands will cost an additional Rs 10 and Rs 20 per 180 ml for premium brands. 

On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu recorded 771 positive cases with 324 cases in Chennai district and 188 fresh cases from Ariyalur. Currently, Tamil Nadu has no green zones and all the districts fall in either orange or red zones.

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