In bad news for bar owners in Kerala, now only 27 bars in five star hotels will be allowed to sell liquor in the state, other than at state-owned liquor outlets.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Vikramjith Sen and Justice Sivakeerthy Singh has dismissed the Kerala Bar owners’ plea challenging the Kerala High Court order allowing only 5 star hotels to operate bars in the state.
The petitioners had challenged the same citing the government’s biased attitude allowing only 5 star hotels to run bars. The SC has said that the 730 bars that were closed down by the government need not be re-opened.
The Apex Court has also upheld the policy which did not allow four and three star hotels to operate bars. Kerala government had told the court that the policy was made to curb alcoholism and protect the state’s tourism interests.
Reacting to the verdict, Excise Minister K Babu said that this would allow the state to help families struggling with the problem of alcoholism.
The judgment could not have come at a better time for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who has been receiving flak for many issues. The UDF government in Kerala has been projecting the liquor policy as one that is women-friendly and will solve the issue of rising alcoholism in the state.
A list of Oommen Chandy’s woes:
- Bar Scam implicating then State Finance Minister KM Mani
- Rout in local body polls held in November
- Solar Scam accused Biju Radhakrishnan claims to possess visual proof of Chandy allegedly receiving sexual favours from co-accused Saritha S Nair
Here’s a quick look at the timeline of the bar issue:
March 2014 - 730 bars operating in Kerala
April 2014 - 410 bars closed down because of low standards.
30 October 2014 - HC upholds govt liquor policy asking to close down all bars except 5 star, four star and heritage bars. Only 62 bars remain.
31 October 2014 - HC allows closed bars to reopen for one month.
March 2015 - HC upholds government policy to close all bars except 5 star bars. On March 31st remaining 350 bars closed down.