The Madras High Court on Monday refused to entertain a writ petitions seeking absolute ban on manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol in the state of Tamil Nadu. The Madras High Court on April 17th had declined a plea seeking sale of liquor at least for two hours a day during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, observing that any such move would nullify the efforts taken by the Tamil Nadu government to check the spread of the virus. But recently, the Central Government allowed the opening of liquor shops all around the country despite the nationwide lockdown.
Following this order, a Writ Petition under 226 was filed in the Madras High Court directing the State’s Home Ministry to completely prohibit the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol. The Petitioner, R.Dhanasekaran argued that re-opening of liquor shops is not in the interests of general public and such the Government is duty bound under Article 47 of the Constitution to take steps that are conforming to standards of improved public health.
What is Article 47?
Article 47 of the Constitution is a Directive Principle which stipulates that the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
What did the court held?
Dispelling the arguments of the petitioner, the Court held that regulation of alcohol is purely a matter of state policy that does not warrant judicial interference. Further, it pointed out that Article 47 is not an "enforceable provision" and thus, the petition has no leg to stand.
The Court said that it is not inclined to interfere with the matter of State Policy of opening or reopening of the State liquor shops at this point of time, since the Central Government has already indicated allowing re-opening of the liquor shops in the present stage of lockdown.
Further the court said that Article 47 is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy that are not enforceable in the court of law. Therefore, it does not give rise to any cause of action of the petitioner to seek any Mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.