In an order which will have far reaching consequences, Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to impose “complete prohibition on the possession, distribution, collection, sale, purchase or consumption of alcohol/liquor including beer and intoxicants in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, from the next financial year i.e. 2017-2018, in order to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living in the society.”
The division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh were hearing a writ petition filed by one Udit Narayan Tiwari, wherein it was alleged that a Liquor Bar was being run 300 metres away from the wall of the municipal ward in Haridwar district. This bar was issued a license by the excise department. This the petition alleged, was in violation of a government order dated February 24, 2002.
According to the said government order, there is complete prohibition for selling liquor in the religious places within the municipal limits of Haridwar and Rishikesh. There is also prohibition on sale of liquor within a radius of 1.6 kilometres from Piran Kaliyar, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri & Yamnotri Dhams, Purnagiri, Ritha Sahib, Hemkund Sahib and Nanakmatta. Also, suitable number of check posts were ordered to be set up to check the smuggling of liquor. Liquor vends in the countryside were ordered to be reduced. The sale of liquor at Char Dhams was banned.
The bench observed that it is clearly stated in Article 47 of the Indian Constitution in the Directive Principles of State Policy that “the state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.”
Citing the example of the recent prohibition in the state of Bihar, the bench observed- “The consumption of liquor is definitely injurious to health. It has destroyed many families.”
The 34 page order goes on to lay down BG Kher’s argument in support of prohibition while introducing Article 38, during the constituent assembly debates. He said- “Every single rupee that the state gets by way of revenue from excise, society loses three times that money by the increase of crime. The general impression about bringing prohibition is that it may result in law and order situation. The prohibition can be imposed by strengthening the law and order machinery.”
Several observations were made by the bench against the use of alcohol as well as other intoxicants, the bench said that” the use of intoxicants, drugs and liquor, in fact, affects the morality. Use of alcohol causes depression. It damages the liver. It may cause Cancer as well. The long-term consumption of liquor/alcohol results in death of brain cells. It may result in cirrhosis including Pancreatics. It also affects the social fabric of the society. Large number of devotees from all over the country visit Chardham in the State of Uttarakhand.”
Pointing out various judgements of the apex court and observations made therein, the bench also observed that the state government “has taken laudable steps for prohibiting the sale of liquor in specified areas but taking into consideration the ever increase consumption of alcohol, more particularly in younger generation, the complete prohibition on possession, distribution, collection, sale, purchase or consumption of liquor/alcohol, including beer and intoxicants, is required, at least, in the districts where Chardhams are situate, to begin with.”
Although the petition was disposed off since the licensed bar in question did not lie within the boundaries of the concerned municipal ward, court passed the following “mandatory directions”-
(a) No person consumes liquor or intoxicants in any public place
(b) No person is found drunk or in a state of drunkenness at any public place
(c) No person drinks or creates nuisance or violence at any place including in his own house or premises.
(d) No person shall permit or facilitate drunkenness or allow assembly of drunken elements in his own house or premises.
(e) The State Government is further directed to impose complete prohibition on the possession, distribution, collection, sale, purchase or consumption of tobacco within a radius of five kilometres from Gurudwara Nanakmatta, Gurudwara Ritha Sahib and Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib to maintain religious sanctity of these places. Notification to this effect be issued within one week by the State Government.
Also, the state government has been directed to ensure that “no liquor vend is open from the next financial year within a radius of one kilometre from all the educational institutions, hospitals and religious places in the State of Uttarakhand.”
Read the Judgment here.