Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: S.M. Subramaniam, J., considered the question that the consumption of liquor in an Association, Club or in similar places, whether permissible or not?

Background

The relief sought was to forbear the respondents from harassing the petitioner-Club and its members by insisting the petitioner-Club to obtain FL2 License from the State Government for permitting its members to consume liquor brought from outside (purchased from Government approved liquor shops) within the petitioner-Club premises.

Petitioner-Club was constrained to move the present petition on account of the fact that respondents were frequently harassing the petitioner-Club by conducting unnecessary inspections.

Senior Counsel for the petitioner opined that purchasing liquor from Government approved shops and bringing the liquor bottle inside the club premises and consumption of liquor by the members could not be objected by the police authorities.

What was the admitted fact?

It was an admitted fact that the members of the petitioner-Club were consuming liquor in the Club premises, and they were not causing any nuisance or disturbance to the other members or the public in general. Such activities of in-house consumption of liquor would not fall under the offence of nuisance.

Thus, the interference by the Police Authorities is highly unwarranted and therefore, the respondents should be restrained from conducting any such unnecessary inspections in the absence of any specific complaint or otherwise.

Bye-Laws of Petitioner-Club

The bye-laws of the petitioner-club revealed that the Club permitted the sports activities and maintained reading room for the benefit its members. It did not hold any valid license to sell the liquor or to consume the same inside the Club, which was a public place. Thus, the petition was liable to be rejected.

High Court’s Opinion

Bench opined that it would be beneficial to refer to the provisions envisaged in Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act, 1937 and as per that, consuming liquor in a public place where there is no licence or permission is granted and such person is in the state of intoxication, then the Authorities Competent are empowered to prosecute those persons.

Whether consumption of liquor in an Association, Club or in similar places, whether permissible or not?

Any Association, Club or otherwise cannot go beyond the scope of its bye laws and the Competent Authorities under the Societies Registration Act are also empowered to initiate action for violation of the bye-laws.

The Bench expressed that, it is not if any Club or Association can register their Organization under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act and carry on their activities in their own way or involving in unconnected activities, which are not approved under the bye-laws, which is registered under the Societies Registration Act.

Since the petitioner-club was registered under the Societies Registration Act, it was bound to confine its activities with reference to the bye-laws registered under the Registration Act. In the event of expansion of activities, then license or permission were required and even the bye-laws required amendment, which must be approved by the competent authorities under the Societies Registration Act.

High Court elaborated stating that buying, selling, consumption and possession, all are regulated under various Rules and Regulations.

“…consumption of liquor when regulated under the Rules, then the consumption must be in accordance with the provisions of the Act and Rules and it is not at the choice of the consumers of liquor.”

The Court stated that possession and consumption of liquor in a Club or Association as per the Rules may be done only by obtaining license from the Competent Authorities. In the absence of license, it is to be construed as an offence under the Prohibition Act and under the Rules in force.

Therefore, Clubs and Associations registered under the Societies Registration Act, are carrying on their activities beyond the objects set out in their respective bye-laws and there are many such complaints in the public domain. Thus, Courts are expected to exercise restraint in passing such general orders in the interest of the public.

Duty of the Executives

Scrupulous implementation of law is the duty mandated on the Executives.

The Bench expressed that, no doubt, largescale allegations against the Spa, Clubs, Associations, Recreation Clubs etc., are in the public domain and such allegations are resulting in various consequences in the Society. It creates problems in the families and also in the Society at large.

Thus, it is duty mandated on the Executives to ensure that such illegal activities are effectively controlled by initiating all appropriate actions in the manner known to law.

“…buying, selling, possession and consumption of liquor all regulated under the Rules and any violation in this Regard is an offence and the persons committing such illegalities are liable to be prosecuted under the relevant Statutes and the Rules in force.”

 High Court passed the following orders:

  • Relief stood rejected.
  • The first respondent-Director General of Police is directed to constitute trained Special Squads in each District and in Cities across the State of Tamil Nadu under the leadership of the respective Superintendents of Police and the respective Commissioners of Police for the purpose of conducting inspections in Social Clubs, Associations, Spa, Recreation Clubs, Massage Centres etc., and initiate all appropriate actions, in the event of identifying any commission of offence or illegality.
  • On initiation of any such action, against any such Organisations, Social Clubs, Associations etc., the actions initiated shall be communicated to the Competent Jurisdictional Authorities under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, along with the details of allegations and action taken, enabling those Authorities to initiate further actions under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 and Rules or under the relevant provisions of law if the registration of Associations and Clubs are done under different Statutes.
  • DG directed to issue all necessary instructions/guidelines to the Subordinate Police Authorities to develop an effective coordination with the Registration Department and other Government Departments concerned, so as to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the Statutes for the purpose of prosecuting the offenders dealing with the illegalities simultaneously under various relevant Statutes.
  • DG directed to issue circulars to Police officials across the State of Tamil Nadu and communicate the copy of such circulars to the Registration Department and other connected Government Departments and to local bodies for initiation of appropriate actions against the licenses granted for such establishments by the local bodies as per the terms and conditions and under the provisions of law.
  • The above-said is directed to be done within a period of 4 weeks.

Matter to be posted before this Court under the caption ‘For Reporting Compliance’ on 24-1-2022. [Kancheepuram Reading Room and Tennis Club v. Director General of Police, WP No. 30803 of 2012, decided on 23-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioner: Mr. T.R. Rajagopalan, Senior Counsel for Mr. P. Dinesh Kumar.

For Respondents: Mr. M. Rajendiran, Additional Government Pleader.

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

No. F. 3(2)/Fin.(Rev-I)/2020-21/DS-VI/177.— In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 81 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 (Delhi Act 10 of 2010), the Lt. Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi hereby makes the following rules to further amend the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, namely:-

1. Short Title and Commencement – (1)These rules may be called the Delhi Excise (Amendment) Rules, 2020.

(2) They shall come into force with effect from 10.06.2020.

(i) Amendment in Rule 154 – In the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, in rule 154, in sub rule (4), in the table relating to Other Fees(Permit/Pass/Import/ Export), –

the entry in the table with description namely “special corona fee” with fee (in Rs) 70% of the maximum retail price on all categories of liquor sold through retail licensees for consumption “off” the premises inserted vide notification No. F.3(2)/Fin.(Rev-1)/2020- 21/DS-VI/150 dated 04/05/2020 stands deleted.

NOTIFICATION


GNCTD

[Notification dt. 09-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of  Sonia Gokani, J. passed an order of release of the vehicle after levying certain stringent rules under Gujarat Prohibition Act. 

The petitioner was found carrying liquor without any pass or permit. The FIR was filed against the petitioner under the Gujarat Prohibition Act and the vehicle was confiscated. 

The Counsel for the petitioner, D.K. Patel argued that the vehicles have become junk within police station premises as they are kept unattended. Reliance was placed on the case of  Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai v. State of Gujarat, (2002) 10 SC 283.

The Counsel for the respondent, Jirga Jhaveri argued that some stringent condition should be put before releasing of the vehicle. She also contended that the power of the release of vehicle is to be exercised under Article 226 of the Constitution as powers of the Magistrate to order the interim release of the seized vehicle under Section 98(2) Gujarat Prohibition Act. 

The Court after hearing both the parties and exercising its power under Article 226 directed the concerned authority to release the Vehicle after imposing the terms and conditions, and in the event of any subsequent offence, the vehicle shall stand confiscated. [Yogeshbhai Arvindbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, R/Spl. Crl. Application No. 762 of 2019, Order dated 03-05-2019]

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Single Judge Bench comprising of P. Ubaid J., addressed a petition seeking quashing of the prosecution under Section 482 CrPC due to no material on record and otherwise leading to an abuse of legal process.

The present matter deals with the petitioner being found consuming liquor at the side of the public road and when approached by the Sub-Inspector, scolded him in filthy language. The petitioner submits that there is no material for a prosecution against him under Section 15(c) of the Kerala Akbari Act or under Section 294(b) IPC as it has been wrongly registered against him for the mentioned Sections. The Alco-meter test had given some strange results for which the police admitted that it occurred due to some mechanical defect.

Further, placing reliance on the case Rajeev P v State of Kerala, 2009 KHC 979, it was established by the bench that on evidence of smell of alcohol alone, an accused cannot be found guilty under Section 15(c) of the Kerala Akbari Act.

While giving due consideration to the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court observed that there was no scientific material to show that alcohol was detected in the blood of the accused, in fact, the only material available was that of the ‘smell’ which the doctor detected and issued the certificate in regard to that. Therefore, the present prosecution stands quashed as it only leads to sheer waste of time and an abuse of legal process. [Mukesh v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 2737, order dated 11-07-2018]

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Rajeev Sharma and Lok Pal Singh, JJ., was deciding a public interest litigation-writ petition that highlighted the opening of a liquor vend in the heart of Almora town near the District Hospital and Girls Inter College. The bench directed the State to curb the menace of free availability of narcotics including liquor to the youth.

The petition was filed alleging that the abovesaid liquor vend contravene the provisions of Uttar Pradesh Number and Location of Excise Shops Rules 1968, and also the instructions issued by the State Government in that matter as the said shop was established in the proximity of educational institution, which is prohibited. The High Court was of the view that such establishment should not have been permitted by the Government. Further, narcotics including liquor should not be readily available; liquor vends should be far away from educational institutions, busy hubs, commercial centers, hospitals, factories, etc.

The High Court observed that Article 47 of the Constitution, cast a duty upon the State to strive for the prohibition of consumption of liquor. It was observed that ‘drug abuse’ has broken the social fabric and destroyed many families. The Court noted that the smuggling of drugs into the State from border areas was on a rise; the police was not able to get hold of drug peddlers and especially their ‘kingpins’. The Court held that the menace of drug abuse has to be dealt with sternly. The kingpins apprehended in such cases are to be booked not only under NDPS Act but also under the Money Laundering Act which provides for prevention of money laundering and confiscation of property derived from, or involved in, money laundering and for matters connected therewith. The State was further directed inter alia to appoint more Drug Inspectors, constitute Special Operation Groups, set up check posts at Indo-Nepal Border, undertake special drives to uproot cannabis, establish Rehabilitation Center in each district, ensure that no minor is served any drug or alcoholic beverage, etc. The petition was disposed of in above terms. [Manoj Singh Pawar v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 552, dated 18-6-2018]

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court– Deciding on a writ petition filed contending that the State of Jammu and Kashmir has failed to take necessary steps for prohibition of sale and consumption of liquor in the State, the division bench comprising of N. P. Vasanthakumar, C.J and Hasnain Massodi J., asked the Excise Department of the State Government to take necessary steps to educate the residents of the State regarding the evils of drinking liquor which will promote the Directive Principle of State Policy behind Article 47 of the Constitution of India. The Court further observed that by merely bearing the labels printed on the liquor bottles that “Consumption of liquor is injurious to health”, the harmful effects of liquor cannot be curbed.

In the instant case the petitioner contended that due to the availability of liquor and its consumption the health of the residents is very much effected which the State is bound to protect under Article 21 of the Constitution. The petitioner also forwarded a draft bill to the respondents for taking action to prohibit the sale of liquor in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The respondents contended that total ban would lead to loss of revenue to the tune of Rs. 500 crore to the Government per annum from the Excise revenue and about 300 crore towards Sales Tax to the State exchequer and the Tourism would also be effected. However, certain steps have been taken to restrict and regulate the trade. The Court finally directed the state government to strictly enforce the steps taken to restrict and regulate trade of liquor mentioned in the objections so filed. [Karwani Islami v. State of Jammu & Kashmir, 2015 SCC OnLine J&K 211, decided on 27.10.2015]