Observing that alcohol has destroyed a generation and that it was imperative to protect the future generations from the ill-effects of alcohol, the Madras High Court told the government of Tamil Nadu that there were other ways for the state to earn revenue apart from selling alcohol.
The observation came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Ramkumar Adhithan from Tiruchendur in the Madurai bench of Madras High Court, seeking a revision in the timings of TASMAC shops across the state. In his petition, Ramkumar stated that the state government earned Rs 31,244 crore from the sale of alcohol last year, and that it has been involved in setting targets for alcohol sale in TASMAC stores during festival seasons. He also added that around 475 of Tamil Naduâ€™s population consumes liquor, and that this was the highest in the country.
Adding that alcoholism leads to a lot of problems, the petitioner submitted that the TASMAC shops in the state function from 12 pm to 10 pm, and that this facilitates drinking and driving. Ramkumar requested the court to intervene and order the state to limit TASMAC timings from 2 pm to 8 pm, ban the sale of alcohol to those below 21 years of age, and also to create awareness among the people about the ill-effects of alcohol.
A division bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar observed that when alcohol is available round-the-clock, there is no point in changing the timings of sale. The judges also raised questions if the rules regarding sale of alcohol in the state are being followed, and if CCTV cameras have been installed in TASMAC shops and bars.
Stating that the state government must focus on other avenues to increase revenue, the judges said that villages can also come forward and pass resolutions against setting up of TASMAC shops in their locality as part of their gram sabha meetings. The state government has to respond to the petition by February 28, which is when the petition will be heard next.