NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday stayed the Madras High Court (HC) order to close liquor shops in Tamil Nadu, where social distancing and safety norms were flouted at the stores.
The High Court, on 8 May, had ordered shutting down the liquor shops operated by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Ltd (TASMAC) till the lockdown is lifted. The HC, however, had said it is open to the state and TASMAC starting online sales of liquor after putting a required system in place.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, S K Kaul and B R Gavai issued notices to those who had filed pleas in the high court seeking closure of the liquor vends in the state.
India is in a lockdown since 25 March. The lockdown, the most stringent in the world, is in its third phase that ends on 17 May. The government will extend the lockdown to a fourth phase, albeit with more relaxations and guidelines.
The Tamil Nadu government approached the apex court on 9 May challenging the validity of Madras HC's order. The state argued that the order was an “judicial overreach". Tamil Nadu also said online sale and home delivery of liquor cannot be ensured across the state due to lack of internet connectivity.
Tamil Nadu said the Madras HC order severely affected the state's revenues and commercial activity. All liquor retail in Tamil Nadu is owned by TASMAC and the order of the high court would effectively stall sales of alcohol in the state, the plea said.
The apex court’s stay on the Madras HC's order will allow liquor shops to re-open, bringing in the much-needed revenues.