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Ambiguity in the HC order on bar closure, says minister K Babu

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Ambiguity in the HC order on bar closure, says minister K Babu
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Thiruvananthapuram: Excise Minister K Babu on Friday said there were ambiguities in the High Court’s judgement on the government’s liquor policy.

“At present, there are several four-star bar hotels among the closed ones. It should be made clear what the government should do if they apply for licences,” the minister told reporters here on Friday.

He said that the unsold liquors in the closed bars would be handed over to the Beverage Corporation, adding, “the government will continue to permit liquor sale in clubs.”

“The Taxes Secretary and Excise Commissioner will study the judgement and discuss it with the Law Secretary and the Advocate General. The UDF government will hold discussions before taking a decision on its further discourse,” Babu said.

In a shot in the arm for the Congress- led UDF government, which has set a goal of total prohibition by 2023, the High Court Thursday held as valid its new excise policy paving the way for closure of 700 liquor bars attached to hotels in the state.

However, the court allowed 33 bars in four-star and heritage category hotels to function though the state government had banned bars in all hotels below the five-star status. Twenty bars in five-star hotels were allowed to function by the court.

The judgement was passed by Justice Surendra Mohan on a batch of petitions by Kerala Bar Owners against the state government's August 22 decision to close down bars attached to hotels below five-star category.

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