States have the Constitutional Responsibility to Prevent Alcohol Consumption-SC



The Supreme Court of India has yesterday approved the Kerala government’s decision to ban alcohol in the State. Accordingly only five star bars can now sell liquor in the state, while wine and beer shall be sold at other outlets and hotels as earlier. The verdict has been widely welcomed by the state government with excise minister K. Babu saying that it will go ahead very strongly with the anti-liquor campaign programmes so as to remove the habit from the society.

Justices Vikramjit Singh and Shiva Kirti Singh while pronouncing the verdict held that all the state governments have a Constitutional responsibility to reduce the consumption of alcohol among public, if not completely curtailing it, as per Article 47. The bench said that strict state regulation is imperative to discourage the practice of alcohol consumption and the decision is appositive step towards the same.

“The court cannot be blind to the fact that a social stigma at least as far as the family unit is concerned is still attached to the consumption of alcohol. Free trade in alcohol denudes family resources and reserves and leaves women and children as its most vulnerable victims,” the court held.

However, the bar owners and others heading 2/3/4 star hotels have protested against the ruling by saying that it is discriminatory and by restricting consumption from five star bars alone won’t bring any change in the situation.

Contending this, the court said that it has been made not only on the basis but also in the interest of tourism. “In other words, were it not for considerations of tourism, this exception in favor of five-star hotels may have been struck down,” it clarified.