Chennai: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court asked the Tamil Nadu government as to why it cannot make Aadhaar card mandatory for purchasing liquor from state-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) outlets. The TASMAC is responsible for the sale of liquor and enjoys a monopoly over the Indian-made foreign liquor.

This comes after Arun Pandian, a Madurai resident approached the court pleading for an interim ban on applying for bar licenses attached to TASMAC outlets. The judges also raised questions about why the business hours of liquor shops were not limited between 2 pm and 10 pm (the existing working hours are from 12 noon to 10 pm). “Why not shut down the bars that are attached to these outlets,” asked the judges.

These questions were raised given that school students and those below the legal age for alcohol consumption were able to purchase liquor from the state-run outlets. They also made a mention of how this could lead to a rise in illegal activities and road accidents. The judges also pointed out that various crimes took place at the bars attached to TASMAC outlets. The case has been adjourned and the Managing Director of TASMAC is required to file his reply before March 12.

Prohibition has been a contentious issue in Tamil Nadu. In their poll manifesto ahead of the 2016 elections few parties had promised total prohibition if voted to power. Whereas the AIADMK that ended up winning the 2016 Assembly Polls had promised ‘phased prohibition’, which meant that 500 liquor shops would be closed down every year. However, it is important to note that revenue obtained from liquor sales contributes a significant chunk to the State Exchequer.

(Written by Sidharth M.P)