The attitude of the state is to be construed as 'pinching the child and swinging the hammock', the bench observed.
The Madras High Court has urged the Tamil Nadu Government to revisit the entire policy in the matter of liquor prohibition by considering the 'will' and 'wish' of the larger sector of the society of each area in the matter of taking decision with regard to the establishment or relocation of TASMAC shops.
The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) is a company owned by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcoholic beverages in the state.
A bench comprising Justice K Kalyanasundram and Justice SM Subramaniam observed that the state cannot adopt such a policy of maximising number of liquor shops and the state functioning for the welfare of the public and has to adopt a pragmatic approach in implementing directive principles of the state policy.
It observed that there is a constitutional obligation cast upon the state to develop public health by imposing prohibition, but the state is entering into commercial venture for generating revenue for the government exchequer, by allowing the state-owned company to run larger number of liquors shops in various localities. “Maximising the number of liquor shops in the state will not only cause damage to the health of the persons at large, but, it would also ruin the progress of our nation, as it would also create disorderliness in the family belonging to the poor/middle class/socially weaker section of the Society.”
The court remarked: “The message to the citizens is that, yes, consume alcohol in Government-owned shops and the State is equipped with Ambulance '108' to provide best treatment in the Government General Hospital. The attitude of the State is to be construed as 'pinching the child and swinging the hammock'.”
The court further observed that though prohibition for sale of liquor throughout the state is a wanted decision by a large sector of people, especially women, it is not in a position to issue such a direction. “However, we are of the considered view that the State has to, to some extent, show generosity over the public. It is the duty of the State to revisit the entire policy, in a phased manner, and to the extent possible, take into consideration the Will of the people of that locality and intend to reduce the agony and inconvenience that would be caused to the public on account of the establishment/relocation of the TASMAC shops, which is detrimental to the public,” the bench observed.
The court also said if a resolution or decision is taken by panchayat committees at village levels and if such a resolution is placed before the government, expressing the will of the majority of the people of that locality, undoubtedly, the government is duty-bound to respect and respond to such resolutions.
Read the Judgment here.