Nagpur: The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday cancelled the circular issued by State Excise Department regarding country liquor shops.
The circular, issued by State Excise Department on September 1, 2017, had imposed new license conditions on the country liquor shops in city limits while renewing their licenses. Pursuant to Supreme Court’s clarificatory order, the liquor vends within municipal areas got permission to re-start. However, in case of country liquor shops situated within city limits, the State Excise Department had made it clear that CL-III licenses of country liquor shops situated in close proximity to residential areas without any supporting infrastructure will not be renewed if there is inadequate parking. Besides the CL-III license holders were directed to produce a certificate of commercial non-agricultural use permission and the premises must be at least 25 sq mt in area. Earlier the requirement was only 16 sq mt and there was no condition of parking. These changes to rule 24 of Maharashtra Country Liquor Rules 1973 made the task of country liquor vendors little difficult and they challenged these amended rules before the High Court.
The petitioners claimed that other liquor vends have been allowed to function as per High Court’s order while due to this amendment to Maharashtra Country Liquor Rules 1973 published on September 1, 2017, their licenses have not been renewed for no fault on their part. Thus, there is discrimination between the licensees, the petitioners claimed. Petitioners also claimed that amendment can not apply retrospectively and licences which are not renewed can also not be subjected to this new norm.
After hearing both the sides, the High Court found substance in the petition of country liquor vendors and cancelled the circular issued by State Excise Department.