The High Court of Gujarat on Tuesday observed that the prohibition policy of the State “has not worked well”, and that one of the reasons for the same was the easy entry-point for liquor to be brought it.
“I take judicial notice of the fact that the prohibition policy in the State of Gujarat has not been able to yield positive results. One may not find an open bar on a public street, but the number of cases, as on date, pending in the different Courts in the State of Gujarat, bears eloquent testimony to the fact that either the policy is not effective or something is wrong in the implementation of the law,” Justice J.B. Pardiwala observed.
Noting that a large quantity of liquor was illegally being brought in the State from Daman, the Court opined that the Central Government should consider denotifying Daman as a part of the Union Territory, and making it a part of the State of Gujarat, so as to make the Bombay Prohibition Act, applicable to it. “It is for the Central Government to consider this issue at the earliest before it is too late in the day,” it thereby observed.
The Court was hearing a batch of applications for quashing of F.I.Rs registered under the Prohibition Act. The applicants were arraigned as accused under the Act, after purchasers of liquor from their stores were caught with bottles of liquor within Gujarat. The applicants had now contended that they could not be held responsible under the Bombay Prohibition Act, as they were residents of Daman, carrying on business of sale of liquor on account of a licence issued by a competent authority.
The Public Prosecutor, on the other hand, had submitted that the applicants cannot get away with their liability on the plea that the Act was not applicable to the Union Territory of Daman.
The Court observed that the applicants had prima facie abetted the commission of the offences punishable under the Bombay Prohibition Act. It was, however, of the view that it should not interfere at the current stage, and allow the Police to complete its investigation in accordance with law.
It, therefore, observed, “I find it extremely difficult at this point of time, more particularly, when all F.I.Rs. are at the stage of investigation to take the view that the applicants are not liable to be prosecuted for the offences punishable under the provisions of the Bombay Prohibition Act with regard to the different F.I.Rs. registered in the State of Gujarat. The clandestine manner in which the consignments are supplied and brought within the State Gujarat, speaks volumes as regards the complicity of the applicants in one way or the other in the alleged offence. Only the proper investigation would reveal the exact involvement of the applicants in the alleged offence.”
Read the Judgment here.