Kochi: The High Court Friday directed the government to decide within two weeks on granting licence to ten liquor bars in the state. Allowing petitions by the ten bar owners, Justice AV Ramakrishna Pillai made it clear that the renewal of licences should be subject to policy and judicial pronouncement of the division bench hearing the matter.
While four of the bars were included in the 418 bars whose licences were not renewed following the declaration of new excise policy of the government in March this year, six others were closed earlier. The court found that denial of renewal of license to these bars -- one attached to four-star hotel and nine to three-star hotels-- was 'discriminatory'.
The bench had allowed 250 bars attached to hotels below four star to run for a month after ordering a status quo following a single judge order partly upholding the government's policy to allow only bars attached to five star hotels.
According to the petitioners, despite the recommendation by the Excise Commissioner, the authorities arbitrarily 'pick and chose' bars whose licences have to be renewed.