The Madras High Court ordered shut Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) shops across the state, two days after allowing them to operate in non-containment zones. This, after the court noted that physical distancing norms to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were not adhered to. The decision to reopen TASMACs was slammed by Opposition parties and activists who warned that it would lead to overcrowding.
On Friday, the court permitted the sale of liquor through online ordering and home delivery only.
Several petitions had been filed against the opening of TASMAC, the first by lawyer B Ramkumar Adityan and others including former IPS officer AG Maurya and actor-politician Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam party. On Thursday, Kamal had written a letter, slamming the AIADMK government for reopening TASMAC, calling the move 'hairbrained' and 'bordering on genocide'.
After the court's pronouncement, Kamal Haasan tweeted, "The judgement has yet again proved that belief and promise of the court will always win. We have got a judgement for the people. This is not a victory for MNM alone."
On Wednesday, a division Bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana allowed the reopening of TASMAC stores after six weeks of lockdown. The court had imposed restrictions including one bottle (750 ml) per person as well as sale of liquor only once in three days per individual.
The court had warned, however, that it would order the closure of shops if precautions were not followed and social distancing norms were flouted. Chennai and neighbouring districts were not allowed to reopen liquor stores.
On opening day, hundreds thronged TASMAC stores in the state. According to some reports, 20 lakh litres of alcohol worth Rs 170 crore was sold. However, physical distancing norms went for a toss and scores were seen without masks.
The opening of TASMAC shops on Thursday witnessed widespread protests from Opposition parties including the DMK, CPM and VCK. Leaders of these parties wore black badges and showed black flags in front of their homes for 15 mins.
Tamil Nadu Opposition Leader MK Stalin, along with DMK Youth Wing Secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin and wife Durga held a black badge protest in front of his house at Alwarpet.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol Thirumavalavan released a video from Puducherry to express his condemnation of reopening liquor stalls.
Apart from this, many women held protests against the opening of TASMAC shops across Tamil Nadu, following which certain TASMAC shops were closed.