HC declines relief to liquor outlets in dry area

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 06 Desember 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Bombay high court on Thursday dismissed a plea by liquor outlets in King Circle, Sion and Dharavi challenging their areas being declared dry on the occasion of Dr Ambedkar's death anniversary. The court dismissed their interim plea for relief observing that since the past two years these areas had observed closure.

Justice Amjad Sayed heard a petition by Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHAAR) challenging the collector's (city) December 3, 2013 order directing closure all outlets selling liquor including wine shops, permit rooms and pubs of I excise division on the occasion of Mahaparinirvan Day and warning of criminal action for breach.

AHAAR's advocates Veena and Vishal Thadani argued that unnecessarily wine shop owners from these areas on the eastern side of Matunga Bridge are being harassed. They argued that under a sub clause of Section 142 of Bombay Prohibition Act the collector has to satisfy himself that there imminent danger to law and order,. We are unnecessarily closed. There has been no law and order problem in all these years. People don't come here. We are selling inside our establishments. Bootleggers will have a field day if official outlets are closed,'' said Thadani. The beauty is adjacent areas like Wadala, Chembur and Chunabhatti are all open,'' she added.

Justice Sayed questioned why AHAAR did not object in 2011 when the I division was declared dry for the first.You accepted the position for two years,'' said Justice Sayed. ' Thadani replied that AHAAR was assured by the excise authorities that it will not be applied to eastern areas of I'' excise division. Justice Sayed also observed that the collector's order is apprehension of law and order by an expert, You accepted the position for two years. '' Thadani replied that AHAAR was each time assured that it will not be applied to I'' excise division.

Government's advocate Shekhar Ingawale said under the statute the collector has to form an opinion.'Just because last year there was no problem the same cannot be predicted for this year,'' he said, adding that application was received by the coordination committee organising the Mahaparinirvan Day for declaration of dry day. More than 6-7 lakh crowd are expected. The crowds disperse to other pockets. Every year the crowds is increasing. If the crowds increase we'll have to reserve more (excise) divisions next year,''said Ingawale.

But Thadani pointed out that these outlets are 6 kms away. How does it matter if I am open or closed? Apart from paying respects at Chaityabhoomi , people also come to see Mumbai over the next 3-4 days. It does not mean that every area has to be declared dry.'' She said wine establishments pay Rs 5 lakhs annually as licence fees and will be hit hard due to the forced closure. The judge after in the evening in his chamber told the parties that the pray for interim relief is rejected on the ground that these establishments in the three areas had observed closure since the past two years.

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