Chhattisgarh High Court quashed State Government’s Order to operate Liquor Shops during the Lockdown

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The Chhattisgarh High Court quashed the order which provided for a committee to be established to look after the preparation to operate liquor shops throughout the states during the lockdown.

Social Worker Mamta Sharma filed a PIL questioning the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation limited order to constitute a committee to take steps regarding preparations to operate the liquor shops throughout the state. Prathmesh Mishra had filed an intervention petition, a suo moto petition related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Petitioner’s Argument

Rohit Sharma, a learned counsel for the Mamta Sharma and Prathmesh Sharma’s counsel Prateek Sharma had submitted that the Ministry of Home Affairs of Central Government has not granted any relaxation to the State Government to operate the liquor shops throughout the states during the lockdown period as per notified by the National Disaster Management Authority on March 24.

The counsels also said that as per the notification, the lockdown in all parts of the country is for 21 days.

Therefore, no such relaxation for the operation of liquor shops has been granted either by the National Disaster Management Authority or the Ministry of Home Affairs because neither the State Government nor the Marketing Corporation has the authority to take steps to operate the liquor shops.

Respondent’s Argument

The Advocate General and Shri Rajeev Shrivastava urged that the first order issued by the state government prohibiting the operation of liquor shops in the state was issued on March 31 and till April 7.

However, the counsels were not able to satisfy as to how the Marketing Corporation’s order dated 2nd April 2020 can survive after the State Government’s order dated 7th April 2020 whereby the state government decided to extend the ban on the sale of liquor till 14th April 2020 when the lockdown notification issued by the Central Government remains in force. Therefore, the marketing corporation started preparations on April 2 in contemplation of commencement of operations of liquor shops after 7 April, the same had not happened, the Corporation’s order dated 2nd April 2020 cannot be allowed to remain intact.

Court’s Decision

The bench has nonetheless has granted the liberty in favour of state government to take a decision in the matter based on the new lockdown notification. The division bench of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Goutam Bhaduri said that the petition has been disposed on the technical grounds and did not express its opinion on the merits of the contentions raised by the petitioner or the respondents.

However, the step taken by the State Government in according to the fresh lockdown notification issued under the National Disaster Management Act and it will remain open for the petitioner as well as the respondent to move afresh before the court. Thus, the order dated 2nd April 2020 has been quashed along with the writ petitions. The writ petition filed by the petitioner and intervention application has also been disposed of.


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