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SC notice to State on plea against its new liquor policy

SC notice to State on plea against its new liquor policy

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to Kerala government on a plea challenging the high court's decison ratifying the new liquor policy that restricts foreign liquor bars to five-star hotels only.

A bench headed by Justice A R Dave granted "leave" to challenge to the Kerala Classified Hotels Association which has sought setting aside of High Court's decision on the issue.

The high court had said that it cannot intervene in the government policy, meant for public welfare and moreover, the "right to drink" is not a fundamental right.

The bar hotel owners need not worry about the loss of revenue for the government, it had said.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress- led state government, said the policy may be struck down on the ground of discrimination (only five star hotels can sell foreign liquor), but the "bar owners cannot seek licence as a matter of right".

"The courts cannot and should not intervene in the policy decisions of the government," he said, adding, "this is the policy that bar licence will be given to five star hotels only".

The policy does not violate fundamental rights like equality before the law and right to practice or carry out profession or occupation, he said.

"Liquor destroys liberty. Liquor destroys family...," he said.

The policy would result in the shutdown of bars in Kerala and only 24 five-star classified hotels in the state will be able to serve foreign liquor in bars.

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