PIL in HC challenges Maharashtra cabinet’s nod to selling wine in supermarkets and shops

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A social activist from Ahmednagar earlier this week filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court to challenge the January 27 decision of the Maharashtra cabinet to allow the sale of wine in supermarkets and walk-in stores.

Currently, only registered wine merchants are allowed to sell wine. Once notified, the new rules will allow the sale of wine in walk-in shops or supermarkets with a minimum area of ​​100 square meters. This decision, however, will not be applicable in the districts covered by the prohibition orders, Wardha and Gadchiroli.

The government’s decision invited harsh criticism opposition parties and state social activists.

Sandip Kusalkar, who runs an NGO called Yuvan for Youth Empowerment and for Disadvantaged Children, filed the PIL through Attorney Filji Fredrick, claiming that the state’s decision was directly contrary to Government Resolution (GR) of August 17, 2011, which aimed for a drug addiction policy to curb the proliferation of addictions among young people.

“The so-called GR of 2011 speaks of efforts to discourage people from indulging in alcohol consumption and especially to deglorify the social status acquired through alcohol consumption. It also talks about the duties of the Gram Sabha in propagating drug addiction policy, and the formation and functioning of drug addiction committees throughout Maharashtra,” reads the plea filed on February 8.

“However, the January 27 cabinet decision is directly contrary to the government’s own resolution and speaks loud and clear about the provision of an elaborate market for wine products and effective marketing of wine in the Maharashtra and the popularization of wine consumption in the state,” the petitioner said. claims.

He went on to say, “The said ruling provides for a ‘self-in shop’ method, from which a person will be facilitated to make the purchase by himself without any supervision, due to which the GR regulations of 2011 on monitoring consumer license and compliance with it is impossible with interested purchase method.

The petitioner stated that this ruling authorizes the sale of wine in supermarkets or walk-in stores to “popularize and familiarize alcohol and drinking among the masses of the state.” This very purpose of the cabinet’s decision defeats the purpose and purpose of deglamorizing alcohol consumption and denying the acquired status for alcohol consumption under the detox policy referred to in the GR of 2011. »

“The cabinet’s decision is also at odds with limiting the number of bottles of alcohol one can purchase at one time, as the service will aid in ‘self-purchasing’, without interference from the merchant or attendant. The age limit for the purchase of alcohol is impossible to monitor and respect in the method of self-service wine purchase in the absence of any attendant or merchant, as it is not intended”, said the PIL.

He added: “The decision only prohibits supermarkets/walk-in shops near educational establishments and religious places from selling wine. The stipulation does not include other institutions such as social institutions, government offices, parks, hospitals, libraries, state and national highways. Not only will this make alcohol available in abundance, but it will create loopholes for those who want to circumvent the legal ban on selling alcohol near these institutions.

The PIL sought to declare the January 27 cabinet decision “unlawful” and “unconstitutional”, and for it to be reversed and overturned. Pending the hearing of the PIL, the petitioner requested the suspension of the application of the decision of the cabinet.

The High Court will hear the plea in due course.

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