The law in force on the date at which a formal, final decision is taken by the competent authority, alone would be applicable to consider grant of foreign liquor licence, the Supreme Court has held in State of Kerala vs M/s Palakkad Heritage Hotels.
A bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar set aside a Kerala High Court judgment, which had held that law to be applied for consideration of the application for grant of foreign liquor licence must be as on the date on which the Excise Commissioner made recommendation for the grant of licence, as was in force on that date.
In the instant case, the Excise Commissioner recommended grant of sanction for FL-11 licence to the applicant, as per the rules.
While the said recommendation was pending consideration before the state government, foreign liquor rules came to be amended on April 18, 2012, prescribing the minimum distance of 200 m from an objectionable institution.
The government, taking note of this development and the report that there is a temple at a distance of 70 m, directed the commissioner to examine the proposal.
His order rejecting the application was challenged before the high court, which had allowed the writ petition and ordered grant of licence.
The high court had relied on Kallada Hotels and Resorts vs State of Kerala, while allowing the writ petition. However, the Supreme Court observed that the question as to what date should be reckoned as the date of consideration of licence has not been squarely dealt with in this decision.
“Indubitably, the processing of the application for grant of licence commences from the date of application. The final decision on the proposal is required to be taken by the State Government. The date on which a formal, final decision is taken by the competent authority, alone, would be the relevant date. The recommendation made by the subordinate authority, even if significant for taking a formal decision by the competent authority, will be of no avail,” the bench said.
As regards the challenge against the restriction of distance of 200 m from objectionable institutions for getting FL-11 licence, the bench relegated the parties before the single bench of the high court to decide the writ petition afresh.
Read the Judgment here.