Chennai, Jun 23 (PTI) Ordering status quo on a bid to relocate a liquor shop near an educational institution, the Madras High Court has said it’s time the government should review its liquor policy respecting people’s wishes. Also Read - SC Breather For Tamil Nadu, Top Court Stays Madras HC Order Directing Closure of Liquor Shops

Rejecting the government’s argument that curbing liquor trade would result in flow of spurious liquor, Justice K Ravichandrabaabu said, “Such justification can never be considered as valid in the larger interest of the public.” The bench made the observation while adjudicating a plea by Hindusthan College of Arts and Science in Kancheepuram district objecting to the relocation of a liquor shop near to the college premises. Also Read - Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Kancheepuram, Arakkonam, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri Seats in Tamil Nadu

The court had on June eight passed an order to close the shop pending disposal of the petition. Also Read - Madurai Bench of Madras HC: Why Not Make Aadhaar Card Mandatory For Purchasing Liquor From State-run Outlets?

When the matter came up for hearing again yesterday, the counsel for the state-run liquor retailer TASMAC submitted that the proposed shop is 65.02 meters away from the compound wall of the institution and there was no violation of the distance rules.

“Though it is clear that the respondents appear to be legally entitled to locate the liquor shop at the proposed site, still in my considered view, they are also morally bound to look into the objections raised by the educational institution, wherein thousands of students are studying in various courses.”

The state has to take into consideration the welfare of the people as their first and foremost obligation while discharging such obligations, the court said.

“Except for generating the revenue to the government, the liquor business has got nothing to do with the welfare of the public in any manner. No doubt, it generates huge revenue to the government. But, can it be done at the cost of the welfare of the people themselves?” the judge asked.

Referring to the argument that curbing liquor trade would result in flow of spurious liquor, the judge said “if the law enforcing authorities in one voice decide and pledge to eliminate such illicit trade, I am very much sure that it will be done in no time.”

The judge while directing the petitioner’s college to make a fresh representation to the authorities, directed status quo with regard to location of the TASMAC shop which is in question.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.