A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in Karnataka HC praying for the opening of wine shops in Karnataka for a few hours daily during the lockdown. The PIL has been filed by Late G.B. Kulkarni Memorial Legal Trust through its President- Dr. Vinod G Kulkarni. Dr. Vinod G. Kulkarni, a psychiatrist, states that alcohol is a relaxant to the body and the mind when consumed in limited quantities. Referring to Hindu Scriptures mentioning consumption of soma rasa regularly, the petition states that social drinking has been prevalent in India since ancient times.
The plea claims that alcohol deprivation during the lockdown is resulting in mental depression, anxiety, hysteria outburst and abnormal behaviour in people. Adding that it may further develop into a serious medical condition known as ‘Delirium’. Supporting the claim, the plea mentions various instances of suicides committed in Karnataka due to non-availability of alcohol. The petition states that alcohol deprivation amounts to a violation of the rights of social drinkers under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Karnataka HC was scheduled to hear the PIL today, i.e. 07.04.2020.
The Kerala High Court had dealt with a similar issue when it stayed a government order on 2nd April 2020. The impugned government order empowered the Excise Department to permit the supply of alcohol to persons upon the production of a medical certificate. The HC stayed the governmental order for three weeks terming it a “recipe for disaster”. It would be interesting to see as to whether the Karnataka HC follows in the footsteps of its sister high court or charters a new path.