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Why High Court lifted Govt. ban on Liquor Sale just before Civic Polls?


Liquor Ban Lifted
Liquor Ban Lifted

Bench said, ‘Political parties have been wiser enough to store liquor during Elections.’

On Friday, the Bombay HC set aside the ban on sale of liquor in Thane district on 19th February evening for the civic elections.

Hotel associations and wine merchants had challenged the collector’s 24th January circular which directed that all the liquor vendors – including restaurants, shops and hotels- will not serve or sell liquor from 5 pm onwards on February 19, 20, 21, the day of polling & on 23rd February when votes will be counted.

The advocate of petitioner Ramesh Soni argued that under Maharashtra Country Liquor Rules and Maharashtra Foreign Liquor Rules, at the highest a direction can be given to all the vendors to not to keep open a day before the elections but not “48 hours before the election.”

Govt’s advocate said that circular has been issued under rule governing sale of liquor under the Representation of Peoples Act & it covers local elections also.

A bench of Justices Vidyasagar Kanade & PR Bora agreed with Ramesh Soni that the rule is clearly applicable to the Lok Sabha & assembly elections only & not in local elections. In this view, they set aside the ban “to extent of 19th February from 5 pm onwards.

The HC bench added that it isn’t necessary to impose ban after the results are declared, since these days counting is done electronically & the results declared by afternoon.

While parting with the matter in hand, Justice V Kanade said that the intent is to ensure that liquor isn’t sold during the polling & political parties have been wiser enough to store liquor in advance.

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