Case BriefsHigh Courts

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.

Background

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.

Bench

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]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs issued an Order yesterday on amendments in the consolidated revised guidelines on lockdown measures to allow opening of shops. (https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1618049)

This Order implies that:

  • In rural areas, all shops, except those in shopping malls are allowed to open.
  • In urban areas, all standalone shops, neighborhood shops & shops in residential complexes are allowed to open. Shops in markets/market complexes and shopping malls are not allowed to open.

It is clarified that sale by e-commerce companies will continue to be permitted for essential goods only.

It is further clarified that sale of liquor and other items continues to be prohibited as specified in the National Directives for COVID-19 management.

As specified in the consolidated revised guidelines, these shops will NOT BE PERMITTED TO OPEN in areas, whether rural or urban, which are declared as CONTAINMENT ZONES by respective States/ UTs.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 25-03-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While stressing upon the alarming statistics on the occurrence of road accidents due to drunken driving the Full Bench comprising of T.S. Thakur, CJ., D.Y. Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao, JJ. prohibited all States and Union Territories from granting licenses for the sale of liquor along national and state highways. In 2007, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had issued a circular to all the State Governments advising them to remove liquor shops situated along national highways and not to issue fresh licenses. Moreover, the Union Government had formulated for adoption by the States a Model Policy, which provided for a minimum distance from the state/national highways for locating liquor shops. However, an exception was carved out to the effect that the national or state highways would not include such parts of them as are situated within the limits of local authorities.

The Supreme Court noted that though the advisories issued are confined to national highways, it would defy common sense to prohibit liquor shops along national highways while permitting them on state highways, and thereby directed all States and Union Territories to cease the granting of licenses to liquor vends along national and state highways. Also, in order to ensure that the prohibition is not defeated by artifice, the Court further directed that:

(i) The prohibition shall also extend to stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of local authorities;

(ii) Advertisements of the availability of liquor on highways are prohibited;

(iii) No shop for the sale of liquor shall be (a) visible from a highway; (b) directly accessible from a highway and (c) situated within a distance of 500 meters of the outer edge of the highway.

[State of Tamil Nadu v. K Balu, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1487, decided on December 15, 2016]