Most MP liquor shops shut, HC restrains govt from action

Jabalpur, May 28 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday restrained the state government from taking any action against the liquor vendors who are on warpath over the existing terms of excise policy that cripples their business and have shut down their vends.

The vendors had moved the court against government's pressure to reopen liquor vends without revising the terms of business.

Hearing the matter, the court on Wednesday granted three days' time to the state government to furnish terms of the excise policy and other documents related to agreements with the licensees (liquor contractors or sellers).

The HC division bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mittal and Justice V.K. Shukla allowed the state Advocate General to file the affidavit furnishing these details by May 30, the petitioners' counsel Rahul Diwakar said.

The petition is listed for hearing on June 2.

The court heard 30 liquor contractors from various parts of the state seeking direction for either revision of the terms and conditions of their contract or recalling of the entire bidding process of liquor sale for the current fiscal due to economic slowdown caused by the Covid pandemic.

The government had announced conditional reopening the liquor and hemp (Bhang) vends in 49 out of 52 districts in Madhya Pradesh a fortnight ago, as it was keen to get the excise revenue.

However, liquor retail contractors opposed the government order, fearing heavy losses they would incur if the vends were opened under the fresh terms laid down post-lockout.

The contractors, who have invested high amounts for vending licenses, said that they would not be able to recover even a fraction under the present stipulations. Before the start of the lockdown, they could keep the shops open for more than 12 hours.

“We are opposed to the reopening of the liquor shops now as it would cause heavy losses to us. The sale will be high for initial two or three days after that it will nosedive due to the lock down,” a liquor retailer had said.

Sales would be minimal given that the bars and other drinking vends are closed, the liquor vendors believed.

The government had insisted that the vends must be opened first before the Finance Department revisits the terms. The terms were not revised subsequently.



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