Shut bars attached to TASMAC outlets within six months, Madras HC orders

The judge observed that TASMAC was a mere wholesale and retail dealer and outlets could not run a bar or promote consumption of liquor by consumers.
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The Madras High court, on Friday, February 4, ordered the shutting down of bars attached to Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor outlets within six months, citing that the law does not allow TASMAC to run bars attached with liquor shops. The order was passed while Justice C Saravanan dismissed a bunch of petitions submitted by the TASMAC bar owners association requesting for extension of the tender period.

Dismissing the petition, the judge said that sub clause(1-A) and section 17C(1-B) of Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act of 1937 merely allows TASMAC to do wholesale and retail business but do not confer a right to confer privilege to third parties to render allied business of selling edibles or support service to collect used bottles from premises of a bar.

“If the Act does not permit a person to be in a state of intoxication in a public place, TASMAC cannot be seen permitting consumption by consumers of liquor in public places. Even if the bar is not a public place, a person after consuming liquor in the so-called bar will have to necessarily pass through a public place to return home. Therefore, what TASMAC cannot do directly, it cannot do indirectly,” the judge observed.

The judge also said that TASMAC has no authority to encourage consumption of alcohol in public places or so-called bars which are being auctioned for the highest bidders. The court also observed that the license to run a bar can vest with only the licensing authority namely the Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise, and that TASMAC is a mere wholesale and retail dealer and it cannot run a bar by itself directly or indirectly and that it cannot promote consumption of liquor by consumers.

Justice Saravanan in the order said, "The respondent TASMAC is therefore to take steps to close down the bars attached to TASMAC shops wherever licenses have been issued to a section of bidders within a period of six months."

He also observed, “Since the practice of running a bar is in vogue since 2003 which is not strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act of 1937 and Article 47 of the Constitution of India (Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health), the legislature may bring in suitable legislation to amend the Act.”

He also noted that according to Article 47 of the Constitution, states shall endeavour to bring about “prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are injurious to health.”

(With IANS inputs)

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