A writ petition has been filed in Supreme Court of India by Kerala Toddy Shop Licensee Association seeking a direction to Kerala Government not treat ‘Toddy’ and its trade as falling under ‘liquor’ while enforcing the Supreme Court Judgment on highway liquor ban.
A two Judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha has issued notice to the Central government and the State of Kerala.
The petition challenges the action of State of Kerala in declaring Toddy to fall under the definition of ‘liquor’ for the purpose of enforcing the directions issued by the Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu and Ors. Vs K. Balu and Anr.
According to the petition, traditionally Toddy has been considered differently from other forms of liquor as it is a natural drink and has a very low degree of intoxication. That even the State Government has time and again treated Toddy to be distinct from other forms of liquor/alcoholic drinks.
It is also submitted that In Kerala Abkari Act 1902 ‘Toddy’ has been distinctly defined under the said Act from ‘Spirits’, ‘Liquor’, ‘Beer’ and ‘Arrack’ under Section 3 of the Act.
The petitioner pointed out that Government of Kerala in 2003 exempted Toddy from the application of the Rule of observing a Dry Day (day on which sale of liquor is prohibited) by inserting a proviso to Rule 7(11) (vii) of the Kerala Abkari Shops Disposal Rules, 2002.
"The Respondents have taken Toddy to fall under ‘liquor’ as used in the Orders of this Hon’ble Court overlooking the fact that though Toddy which has a minuscule quantity of alcohol finds its mention under the definition of ‘Liquor’ under the Kerala Abkari Act, the very fact that ‘Toddy’ has also been separately defined under Section 3(8) of the Act shows the legislative intent on treating Toddy separate to that from ‘Liquor’. That under the definition of ‘Liquor’ any liquid which contains alcohol is liquor. The percentage of alcohol is not mentioned in the definition. That Toddy finds a place in the definition of liquor only because it contains some amount of alcohol. However, the fact that Toddy has been defined separately as a “fermented or unfermented juice drawn from a coconut, palmyra, date, or any other kind of palm tree” shows the difference between Toddy and other forms of liquor. That such action on part of the Respondents amounts to discrimination against those engaged in the Toddy business and thus infringes upon the fundamental rights of the Petitioners guaranteed under Articles 14 & 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. ”, states the Petition.
Read the Petition Here