It’s liquor dealers vs govt in MP

Jabalpur, June 3 (IANS) The government's plans to coerce the liquor traders into opening the vends in the states have recoiled with Madhya Pradesh High Court restraining it from taking any action against the liquor contractors during the pendency of the case till Wednesday.

The liquor contractors filed an application seeking interim protection against the government which took action against some of them.

Rahul Diwakar, the petitioners' lawyer told the court that the authorities are taking action against a few petitioners by imposing penalty and issuing letters to forfeit the bank guarantee.

This was contrary to the state government undertaking in the court that it would refrain from taking action during the hearing. The petitioners pleaded with the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents.

A division bench of the Chief Justice AK Mittal and Justice VK Shukla issued the interim direction during hearing of the petitioners' application, the counsel said.

The Court also issued notices to the respondents – the principal secretary (Excise Department) and the excise commissioner during the hearing.

The court will continue to hear the liquor contractors on Wednesday, the counsel said. The Government went as far as threatening to take over the liquor trade. The cash- strapped MP government is mulling to run the liquor shops in the state as the liquor contractors are unrelenting, sources said.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that the state economy has collapsed due to coronavirus.

The court on Tuesday heard the petition filed by 30 liquor contractors from various parts of the state.

The liquor contractors have sought the HC direction to the state government to either revise the terms and conditions of their contract or recall the entire bidding process of liquor sale for the current fiscal due to economic slowdown caused by the Corona pandemic.

A tussle is going on between the state government and the liquor contractors after the majority of the liquor shops were closed in despite the state government's order to re-open them last month.

The liquor retailers said that the contract, 25 per cent higher than the rates of last fiscal, with the state government will burn a hole in their pocket in the wake of downturn in the market.



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