TASMAC Challenges Madras High Court Order on Closure of Liquor Shops

Taking note of the huge crowd outside the alcohol outlets,  the Madras High Court directed the closure of liquor shops in Tamil Nadu. A day later, i.e. May 09, 2020, Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation(TASMAC) moved to the Supreme Court challenging the said order.

Earlier, on May 6th, the Tamil Nadu Government issued an order granted the opening of TASMAC shops. This, however, led to the formation of huge crowds and circuitous queues before the retail outlets; leading to the violation of social distancing norms to be followed to control the transmission of COVID-19. In addition, a batch of petitions was filed before the High Court; challenging the Government’s decision to open the liquor shops.

On May 7th, the same bench refused to stay the government order but imposed several conditions on their functioning. The Court noted the conditions imposed by the Court for regulating the crowd outside TASMAC(Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation) shops selling liquor were “blatantly violated“. Consequently, the Court permitted the online sale of alcohol and home delivery.

Meanwhile, the same bench dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking a complete ban on manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol in the state of Tamil Nadu. The Court dismissed the petition on May 4, 2020. While dismissing the PIL, the court held that opening or reopening of the State liquor shops remains a “matter of State Policy” and judicial interference was unwarranted for the same.