Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of S.J. Kathawalla and S.P. Tavade, JJ., allowed a liquor stand-alone shop situated in mall whose entrance and exit were not dependant on the mall and had a totally separate entrance/exit.
Petitioner sought directions against the respondents to grant permission to petitioners for sale of liquor from their shop as a standalone retail shop under the relevant notifications/guidelines/orders currently operating in the State.
In accordance to respondent 1 guidelines dated 3-05-2020, FL II License Holders having standalone shops in Mumbai Metropolitan Region were allowed to commence operations. However, the said guidelines specifically excluded liquor shops/stores inside the malls within the MMR from its application.
By MCGM’s 5th May, 2020 Order, in view of overcrowding in liquor shops in the city, immediate closure of non-essential shops including the standalone liquor shops.
Vide an Order dated 22nd May, 2020, respondent 4 prohibited over the counter sales, but allowed the liquor shops to re-commence operations by selling liquor to the customers by effecting delivery of the permitted liquor, to the home address of the customer.
Respondent 3 by its guidelines issued on 22nd May, 2020 disallowed liquor shops in the malls to sell liquor by effecting delivery at the residence of the customers.
Petitioners were not given permission to commence home delivery of alcohol from their shops on the basis of the fact that their shop is akin to a stand-alone shop.
Thus the petitioner filed the present petition.
From the perusal of guidelines it is evident that intent of respondents is to curb the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring that people maintain social distancing norms.
On perusal of pictures of the petitioners shop, it is evident that the entrance to petitioner’s shop is separate and independent of the mall and it does not rely on the opening or the entry/exit to mall for its operation.
Thus Court agreed to the submission that
Petitioners’ shop in all aspects is akin to a stand-alone shop and it does not fall in the Containment Zone.
“We do not see how permitting the Petitioners to operate their business from their said Shop, which has a separate and independent entrance and exit and does not in any way rely on the entrance or exit gate of the CR2 Mall, thereby making it akin to a stand-alone shop, not fall within the relaxation given by the said NotifIcations/Guidelines.”
Respondents need to be practical rather than technical.
Petition is thus allowed in above-terms. [Ojus Marketing Management (P) Ltd. v. Commr., State Excise Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 691 , decided on 5-06-2020]