17 Feb 2022 2:32 PM GMT
Madras High Court has started hearing a writ appeal against the insistence by the single bench on the possession of FL2 License for the consumption of Liquor inside Club Premises registered under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.The writ appeal has been preferred by Kancheepuram Reading Club and Tennis Association against the single bench order that rejected their plea for an...
Madras High Court has started hearing a writ appeal against the insistence by the single bench on the possession of FL2 License for the consumption of Liquor inside Club Premises registered under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.
"Examine the legal issue of whether there is a requirement of legal license for consumption of liquor inside the Club premises or not. You can amend the Rules accordingly", the court orally remarked.
The petitioner submitted today that an FL2 license is not required as long as the Club is not selling alcohol on its premises. Since the club is a recreational centre equipped with a library that does not sell alcohol, the regular police visits are unwarranted, added the counsel.
The petitioner referred to Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act that bars manufacture of, traffic in, consumption of liquor and intoxicating drugs and contended that the Club is not involved in any such activities. Though Section 4-A of the Act makes it illegal to consume alcohol in public places without a valid license, which in turn, permits the authorities to prosecute such intoxicated persons, the petitioner Club further argued that it was not a public place for the purposes of the Act. General Public is not allowed inside the club premises that are functioning exclusively for the members of the Club which is an association of private individuals.
The petitioner argued that if some individual member opts to consume alcohol or bring alcohol for personal consumption to the premises within the permissible quantity, then the Club cannot prevent the same.
At this juncture, the court inquired about the purpose of FL2 License and for whom and when such licensing is required. The petitioner counsel referred to Rule 17 of Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, 1981 (deals with grant of license and possession of liquor and licenses for liquor used for consumption).
Rule 17 of the TN Liquor (License & Permit) Rules mentions for Licence for possession of liquor by a non-proprietary club for supply to members. The petitioner also referred to Section 8 of the Prohibition Act which states that any officer or person exercising powers under the Act should not undertake vexatious searches without reasonable grounds for suspicion. Upon further enquiry by the Court, the petitioner also submitted that it had given a representation to the higher authorities including Inspector General of Police before approaching the High Court.
The single-judge bench of Justice S.M Subramaniam had noted before that Clubs registered under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act with its bye-laws also registered under the provisions of the Act must strictly follow the objects and purpose already set out in the bye-laws. When alcohol consumption is beyond the scope of the bye-laws of the petitioner club, it must be r/w Rules relating to the grant of licenses in Chapter IV of The Tamil Nadu Liquor (License and Permit) Rules, 1981, which makes it abundantly clear that the Club cannot allow its members to consume alcohol in its premises without FL.2 License and an amendment to the existing bye-laws, the court noted then.
The single-judge bench had also censured the recent trend of filing writ petitions on the pretext that law enforcement authorities are interfering with the lawful businesses of the complainants.
Case Title: The Kancheepuram Reading and Tennis Club v. The Director-General of Police & Ors.
Case No: WA/284/2022 (Gen. Misc.)
Click Here To Read/ Download Order