The HC order on May 8 directed the Tamil Nadu government to shut TASMAC outlets.

Tasmac liquor shops can open again SC stays Madras HC order
news Court Friday, May 15, 2020 - 16:41

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a stay on the Madras High Court’s decision to stop sales at  Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor shops during the lockdown period in the state. The Madras High Court on May 8 directed the Tamil Nadu government to close TASMAC outlets and allow the sale of liquor only through online delivery.

With this, the Tamil Nadu government can effectively open its liquor outlets from Saturday.

The case filed by the Tamil Nadu government came up for hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday before a bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice BR Gavi and Justice Nageshwara Rao, who pronounced the verdict through video conferencing, staying the High Court order.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the High Court has passed “its own guidelines, outside its domain.”

"The problem is that the High Court imposed its own restrictions. They could not have entered into the domain of policy, and thus cannot pass such orders", Rohatgi contended, according to LiveLaw.

Rohatgi further said that it was the state's prerogative to decide how to sell and not that of the High Court. He also opposed the online sale of liquor as there can be issues pertaining to adulteration since TN is a huge state. He also questioned the need for issuing Aadhaar cards for purchasing liquor. Issuing the stay, the SC said that the matter will be heard after 4 weeks.

Simultaneously, the Madras High Court was hearing cases pertaining to the reopening of the TASMAC shops. The state government submitted that the TASMAC was contributing to a major share of the state’s revenue and other departments will need 4-5 years to generate the same revenue. The Tamil Nadu government also mentioned that the online sale of liquor was not possible.

The government said that TASMAC will provide tokens to ensure social distancing. Accepting the submissions, the Madras High Court adjourned all the cases without any notice since the Supreme Court was hearing cases related to TASMAC.

The Madras High Court earlier permitted the reopening of TASMAC shops on May 7 after more than 40 days due to the coronavirus lockdown. However, when people flouted guidelines including maintaining social distancing norms and time slots assigned for age groups, the court ordered closure of the shops.

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