The Madras High Court has stayed proceedings against the president of the Gold Youth Movement Recreation Club, which runs Off The Record, a pub. The pub, located on Kodambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam, was raided by the city police for alleged license violations in September last year. The court ordered a stay on Monday following a submission by the club’s counsel.
Off The Record was accused of breaching the terms and conditions of its license and permit granted to it and allowing non-members of the club to consume liquor. Charges were registered under Section 24 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act. However, Justice N Anand Venkatesh granted an eight-week stay and directed a notice to Inspector of Police, Nungambakkam.
However, according to the club’s submission to the Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, “The respondent police in the guise of raid in a hasty and hurried manner barged into the club and picked up two of the employees and took them to station and registered the F.I.R for the alleged offence and remanded them to judicial custody.”
While C Saravanan, the owner of the club was admittedly not present during the raids, his counsel says that the police ‘falsely implicated [him] for the reasons best known to them and have also laid the final report.”
“The petitioner respectfully submits that the respondent police without even being aware of the terms of the license granted with an pre conceived notion to register a case has orchestrated the alleged raid and has registered the F.I.R with false and baseless allegation and further has made the petitioner an accused though he is not in charge of the day to day to affairs of the club and have also conducted the investigation in a hurried manner and have filed the report and this clearly shows that the respondent police have acted high handed for the reasons best known to them,” states the petition.
The petition further argues that according to the license, the club can supply liquor to its members as well as their guests, while the police have accused them 'on assumption that the petitioner should supply liquor only to its members'. The club argued that its President C Saravanan was not in charge of the day to day affairs of the club and that it was, in fact, handled by the secretary.
In Tamil Nadu, the sale of liquor and the grant of bar license is regulated by the Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, 1981. According to its rules, licenses may be granted to non-proprietory clubs on the condition that they have been functioning for more than 3 years and that at least 50 of the members of the club have signified their willingness to obtain liquor from the said club. The privilege and the licence will be issued by the Commissioner on payment of an annual Privilege Fee of Rs.4,00,000, a Licence Fee of Rs. 5,000 and an Application Fee of Rs. 1,000.